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April 12, 2007

UW will offer special history and literature course this summer

The UW will offer a special course this summer featuring six prominent regional writers as guest lecturers.

John Findlay, professor and chairman of the History Department, will offer Writing the Region: a Documentary History of Pacific Northwest Identity (HSTAA433 — 5 credits). Dan Lamberton, director of the Humanities Division at Walla Walla College, will offer Pacific Northwest Literature (ENGL 457 —5 credits). The two classes will meet together so that regional literature and history illuminate each another.

Visiting writers will include:


  • Kim Barnes (memoirist and novelist, University of Idaho).
  • Debra Magpie Earling (novelist and professor of Native American Studies, University of Montana).
  • Heather McHugh (UW poet, essayist and translator).
  • Marilynne Robinson (author of two novels, Housekeeping and Gilead, the latter a Pulitzer Prize winner).
  • Richard White (Stanford University historian of the American West).
  • Robert Wrigley (poet and essayist, University of Idaho).

Lamberton and Findlay first offered the class six years ago.

“It was the richest teaching and learning experience I’ve been part of,” Findlay said. “The writers simply talked about their work. It opened a great deal for the students and for me about the nature of literature and Northwest identity.” The late novelist James Welch, for example, spent two hours talking about his writing — how, for example, he turned stories from his Blackfoot great-grandmother into fiction.

Students in this summer’s course will attend classes as well as public readings by each writer. They will also see First Class, UW English professor David Wagoner’s play about legendary poet and UW professor Theodore Roethke.

Students can decide whether to take the course for English or history credits. In special cases, they may register for both. HSTAA 433 fulfills the Pacific Northwest history requirement for secondary teachers.

The course will meet three times weekly from June 26 to Aug. 16.