Students in this one semester course focus on the large body of American literature written by and about immigrants. Students examine this literature to identify the culture clashes of the many groups who have come to the U.S. throughout its history and how their works reflect the ways in which those groups became integrated, yet distinctly ethnic components, of the “American Salad Bowl.”
During this semester, students focus on texts (both fiction and non-fiction) which deal with the thematic issue of justice. They examine the varying definitions of justice that have developed over the course of human history and explore how this powerful concept is represented in literature. Course materials include various novels as well as essays and articles on contemporary issues being debated around the world today.
In this one semester course, students watch modern cinematic and dramatic treatments of great works of literature, and attend off-campus live performances or special screenings of classical works. Special attention is given to works the students have read and studied in earlier courses, so they can gain a fuller understanding of how modern technology has handled and modified the ancient art of storytelling. Students will analyze the performances in terms of depiction of setting, creation of character, development of plot, and emergence of theme. An integral part of the course is frequent writing about the individual works under discussion, as well as comparisons between multiple works to identify universal themes, archetypal characters, and motifs.
During this one semester course, students explore the wealth of oral literature, composed both in the past and today, all around the world. Fairy tales, legends, ballads, even contemporary rap music and internet websites are all currency of expression by people in around the world. These various media express both the concerns of those groups, as well as universal human themes. Students study and practice the techniques used to collect this material. A project involving material deriving from each student’s individual ethnic background will be the culminating activity of the course.
An examination of female characters from works such as The Awakening, “The Story of an Hour,” A Doll’s House, Beloved, Woman Warrior, Wide Sargasso Sea, The God of Small Things, A Room of One’s Own, and Jane Eyre help students identify the issues that women have faced in their quest for equality, and explore how authors have shaped their female characters in light of the social and economic influences of their times. Students integrate feminist critical theory into their essays on the literary works.
Starting with Paradise Lost, and continuing with Macbeth, In Cold Blood, Night, “Heart of Darkness,” Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and contemporary media pieces, students analyze the nature of evil, how people throughout history have defined it, responded to it, and even denied its existence. They also analyze the social and political consequences of conceptions of evil.
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