20th-Century Southern Writers, Intimacy and Distance: Faulkner, Hurston, Welty and Wright
This course presents four 20th Century writers whose literary careers were shaped by their unique experiences as Southerners. While each of these writers has gained a considerable reputation as an American writer whose writing transcends regional distinctions, the South resonates in their voices and mediates their vision. What each writer finally confronts is Southern history as burden and source, convention and curse. This course will begin by exploring the myths and cultural codes shaping life in the South (particularly after the Civil War). We will then proceed towards an examination of how the writers in the course frame Southern experience, given their differences in race, class, and gender, as they portray lives lived within and across a variety of socially recognized boundaries. Works to be read include Absalom, Absalom. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Uncle Tom’s Children, Black Boy, The Wide Net and Other Stories, and Losing Battles. There will also be screenings of the films The Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind. Coursework will consist of two critical essays and a final group project.