Spring 2022 - ENGL 345 D100
American Literatures (4)
Class Number: 4835
Delivery Method: In Person
Study of selected works of American literature. May survey a particular era or topic, may draw on transnational or hemispheric perspectives, and may be organized by any number of critical approaches including race, Indigeneity, sexuality, gender, historicism, class, or ecocriticism. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught.
Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant
So says (Saint) Emily Dickinson. This is a class about why Dickinson and other nineteenth-century American poets – Walt Whitman, Frances E. W. Harper, Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (Ojibwa) – felt the need to tell truths obliquely, and how they went about doing so. In the process, we’ll suss out how poetry was (and yes, remains) a potent vehicle for social critique. How does it pack such a punch? And what was it throwing its punches at in the nineteenth century? Well, pretty much everything: sexuality, gender, racism, revolt, settler colonialism, politics, and of course love and its predictable successor, revulsion). Piatt even penned a poetic post-mortem of a pathetic first date.
Hear me now: You don’t need to be a poetry expert to take this course. It’s okay if you don’t know the difference between a poetic foot and a rabbit’s foot, because in addition to poems by the poets listed above we’re going to read a recent novel about how to read poems (and poets), Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist (2009). In addition to being surprisingly funny (You, skeptically: “A funny book about reading poetry?” Me, seriously: “Yes.”), Baker’s novel is a deft treatise on why poetry matters. I say that without even the hint of a blush. Poetry matters. There, I said it again. Let’s talk about how. It’s a cooler discussion than people tend to think.
COURSE-LEVEL EDUCATIONAL GOALS:
Refine the understanding of how language, especially figurative language, creates the world and perceptions of it.
Recognize complex relationships between texts and contexts.
Understand key aspects of the histories, forms, principles, and contexts of literary expression in the nineteenth-century United States.
Develop skills in analyzing and interpreting language and text, broadly defined, and learn advanced strategies for creating and communicating informed claims about them.
Use language, its history, and its capacities to engage with the ideas of others.
- Participation 10%
- Informal Writing 10%
- Explication Exercise (300-400 words) 15%
- Paper 1 (1000 words) 30%
- Paper 2 (1500-2000 words) 35%
Nicholson Baker, The Paul Chowder Chronicles (Penguin, 2014; The Anthologist is republished in this collection)
Amy Hungerford, et. al., eds., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol. B, 9th ed. (Norton, 2017
Department Undergraduate Notes:
IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.
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TEACHING AT SFU IN SPRING 2022
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