David T Holmberg
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody: The West in American Fiction
This course is designed to cover critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods. In this course we will explore the idea of the West in American fiction. Since the arrival of European settlers in the “New World,” the idea of the West has maintained a powerful hold on the American imagination. Alternately portrayed as an untouched Eden and a hostile wilderness, the West has been not just a geographic location but an idea that has shaped the American consciousness. The historical pressures which helped shaped the West—such as Manifest Destiny, Indian removal, slavery, urbanization, and imperialism—simultaneously engaged complex, frequently violent questions revolving around issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Our investigation of the West will examine these issues over three centuries of American fiction, as we explore how the West shaped American identity.
Our readings will cover short stories, novels, and essays, with our primary authors likely to include John Rollin Ridge, Willa Cather, James Welch, Cormac McCarthy, Walter Mosley, Annie Proulx, among others. Because this class satisfies the “W” credit, the course will also be writing intensive, with 10-15 pages of writing and required revision. There will also be reading quizzes, group presentations, and in-class activities.
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