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Place in America

ENGL 286.601
instructor(s):
M 5:30-8:30

 

In his 1986 article, "The Sense of Place," Wallace Stegner--novelist, essayist, professor, and environmentalist--examines our ideas about place in America, relying on fellow writer, Wendell Berry, who wrote: "If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are." Writers often explore the concept of place and how it functions in people's lives. Many writers believe that exploring the influence of place upon our lives is central to understanding who we are as individuals and as a community. This course will focus on the importance of place in America through a variety of twentieth-century literature. We will read poetry, drama, and novels that center on fictional towns and real cities in the United States and consider the parameters of geography in the American experience. Works will be paired and may include Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology and William Carlos Williams' Paterson; Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy; Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story; Upton Sinclair's Boston and Gore Vidal's Washington, D.C.: A Novel; and Grace Metalious' Peyton Place and Toni Morrison's Paradise. Course requirements: class attendance and participation, an oral presentation, and two to three papers.