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seminars > fall 2014 schedule > seminar: Inquiry, Discovery, and Literature: Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature & Society


Honors Seminars Fall 2014

Inquiry, Discovery, and Literature: Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature & Society

HON 202 Sec:002  
3 hours  
GEP Category:
Humanities (Literature)  
HVC Conference Room (202)  
Dr. Jennifer Nolan-Stinson

Restricted to first semester UHP freshmen.

This course will explore the multifaceted relationships between literature and society by examining the intersections between several key works of twentieth-century U.S. literature and the historical and social contexts that surround their production and reception. Our investigations will include both close textual analysis of how literature reflects and critiques social issues of its time, and how the reception, interpretation, and meaning ascribed to individual works of literature shifts throughout the course of the twentieth century. Among topics that will be considered are the following:
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s conflicted relationship with the Roaring Twenties and how his work has come both to represent and to transcend this era.

Depictions of the American South and critiques of the ethics of the Jim Crow era in short stories, novels, and poetry written by William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Ernest Gaines.

Controversies surrounding the content, narration, U.S. publication, and reception of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.
The translation and transformation of the social critiques and literary techniques contained in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from the page to the screen.

In order to understand how society frames and influences the interpretation of literature, we will also explore a variety of scholarly and popular interpretations of and responses to literature, including contemporary reviews in the popular press and scholarly articles. We’ll also go against the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” by investigating how different versions of these works call for different interpretations. Through combining literary, historical, and cultural approaches, students will gain a nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between twentieth-century U.S. literature and society.