The Literature of Social Vision and Social Action
This course is a joint venture between the Penn English Department and the Community Studies Program at West Philadelphia High School. As such, the course will involve ten students from each school.
In spite of political and cultural differences, most Americans would agree that we are currently in the midst of a major crisis in our social and economic life. This course will explore a variety of social visions and their attempts to historicize and address this ongoing crisis.
This seminar meets at West Philadelphia High School two mornings a week. However, Penn and West students will be grouped into smaller collaborative units that work on assignments together. In light of this, the course will require students to committ to spending more time than is usually allotted for completing course assignments and the like. To facilitate communication, students from West Philadelphia High School will have access the English Department's on-line services.
Students will read a diverse body of texts including The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Federalist 10, Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and Ann Petry's The Street, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers. In addition, students will keep up with assigned newspapers and magazines; also, we will view DW Griffith's Birth of a Nation and Oscar Michaux's response, Within Our Gates. Students will develop the last unit of the course in an area like popular culture.
Although the course is scheduled to meet from 9:00 -10:20 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the actual time alloted for the course is 8:30 to 10:45 thereby allowing enough time for travel between West Philadelphia High and the University of Pennsylvania. Interested students should contact Professor Cheyfitz or Professor Griffin for a brief interview. There are 10 slots available for Penn English Majors.