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Topics in Literature

ENGL 016.302
MW 3-4:30

The main concern of the course is what it means to be a freshperson at the University of Pennsylvania, to chart the nature of adaptation and transformation using the collective experiences of the class as a map. What issues are important for you as "newcomers"? What have you left behind? How will you make this place into some semblance of "home"? This seminar will explore the complexity of "travel" and "destinations". Using numerous examples from American literature and film, we will explore the codes and prohibitions that mark the entry into "new space" and the acts of memory necessary to reconstruct places (and people) that have been left behind. We will examine arrivals and departures through the respective lenses of race, gender and class as a way to understand the sometimes traumatic, often disruptive, effects of moving from one circumstance to another; in so doing, terms like "refugee," "migrant," "explorer," "colonist," and "native" will become objects of study. Authors in the course include Whitman, James, Melville, Morrison, Silko, Walker, and Rivera.

fulfills requirements