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Rewriting American Classics

ENGL 255.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This course will examine the way of number of classic American novels, by authors ranging from Hawthorne to Faulkner, have been vividly rewritten by contemporary novelists. What happens when a novelist seizes the characters, plots, and themes of an earlier, foundational novel and transposes that material into his or her own literary property? How do such revisions ask us to see and understand US history and invite us to imagine its contemporary dilemmas and its future possibilities?  We will read Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter together with Kathy Ackerman’s Blood and Guts in High School and Bharati Mukherjee’s The Holder of the World; Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin along with Ishmael Reed’s Flight Into Canada; Whitman’s poetrytogether with Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days; and Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying with Suzan-Lori Parks’s Getting Mother’s Body. Assignments will probably consist of two short papers and a longer research paper.