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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Lauren Summers
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

In his essay, Discourse and the Novel, Mikhail Bakhtin wrote: literary language becomes a dialogue of languages that both know about and understand each other.

Often described as a quintessential product of modernity, the novel reflects in its form the various processes of cultural integration. Emerging out of a nation of immigrants, American literature provides many rich examples through which to examine how different genres interact within the category of fiction as a way of producing national narratives. As Benedict Anderson points out, it is no coincidence that the rise of modern nationalism occurred simultaneously with the rise of the novel as a dominant literary form during the 18th and 19th centuries; the ability of fiction to amalgamate a number of seemingly disparate cultural perspectives into a singular form is part of what made it possible to create a coherent national identity out of such a diverse population.

The goal of this course is to examine a few examples of influential novels and short fiction that reflect some of the different cultural dialogues apparent in American culture during the 18th and 19th centuries. We will read these works alongside other forms, such as drama, poetry and ethnography, to discern how different discourses function in the American novel and, subsequently, how these various works function to create various national narratives. The Prairie, by James Fenimore Cooper, will offer some examples of how natives and Europeans are imagined in an idealized American landscape. Huckleberry Finn and Our Nig will offer a few different social commentaries on slavery, segregation and class, while Charlotte Temple and The Awakening will continue discussions of class along with issues of womanhood in American culture. These core readings will be supplemented by a number of critical secondary works as well as additional primary texts by Thomas Jefferson, Philip Freneau, George Catlin, and others. In this W (writing) course, students will be expected to complete a 10-15 page paper, along with a number of assignments that will include GoPost weekly responses, presentations, quizzes, and grammar exercises. Because this is a seminar course, students should also prepare for a heavy reading schedule and to participate every day in class.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Lauren Summers
Date: 12/14/2009