ENGLISH 313 - Topics in Literary Studies
Winter 2018, Section 001 - The U.S. South, Then and Now
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


While terms like “down South” or “Dixie” imply that the southern United States possess a singular identity—even an identity below, behind or opposed to the rest of the nation—this region is and has long been internally varied, in flux and globally interconnected. While the ante- and post-bellum plantation is its best known and most notorious form of labor-land regime, one which locked people of European and African descent into complex antagonism and intimacy, there were other Souths beyond this one—subsistence mountain communities, displaced indigenous territories, or cosmopolitan cities of mixed French, Spanish, Anglo and Caribbean identity. While today the region is becoming more economically, politically and ethnically diversified, seeing, for example, deliberate in-migration by people of African, Asian and Latino descent, repercussions of the plantation and settler colonialism still linger. How do we begin to comprehend such complexity in the literature of the region? Rather than a lengthy survey, I want us to focus on two episodes in this literary history: the early twentieth and early twenty-first centuries respectively. We’ll read modern authors like Chesnutt, Faulkner, Wright, Hurston, Welty and O’Connor to see how each absorbed the historical legacies of slavery, military defeat, Christian conservatism and Jim Crow while innovating the fiction form. Then we’ll jump forward to the contemporary scene, reading and viewing and listening to artists like Toni Morrison, Ron Rash, Jesmyn Ward, Natasha Trethewey, Kara Walker and Monique Truong. Time permitting, we’ll watch a film or two (maybe Beasts of the Southern Wild, Junebug, or Beyonce’s Lemonade) and listen to the podcast S***town. I take this episodic approach in part because I see these two periods as representing high-water marks in achievement, but also as a means to bring out more stark comparisons between modernist and contemporary experiments with narrative form, understandings of the region within the nation and world, and ways of addressing an always fluctuating multiraciality.

Early 21stc: Morrison, A Mercy; Kara Walker, images; Ron Rash, stories; Ward, Salvage the Bones; S*** Town (podcast); Trethewey, Bellocq’s Ophelia: Poems; Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth.

Early 20thc: Chesnutt, Marrow of Tradition; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Wright, Uncle Tom’s Children; Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Welty and O’Connor, selected stories.

Course Requirements:

Numerous short papers and a final exam.


ENGLISH 313 - Topics in Literary Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
 In Person
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
010 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
020 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
F 11:00AM - 1:00PM
F 11:00AM - 1:00PM
Note: Students will be required to attend two library sessions. One on Friday, January 26, 2018, 11a-1p, and the other on Friday, February 9, 2018, 11a-1p.

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