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current students > seminars > fall 2012 schedule > seminar: Inquiry, Discovery, and Literature: Twentieth-Century American Literature and Society


Honors Seminars Fall 2012

Inquiry, Discovery, and Literature: Twentieth-Century American Literature and Society

HON 202 Sec:005  
3 hours  
GER Cat:
Humanities: Literature  
HVC Conference Room  
Dr. Jennifer A. Nolan-Stinson
Assistant Professor
Restrictions: Freshmen Only  

Restricted to first semester UHP freshmen.

Course Description (Fall 2012) This course will explore the multifaceted relationships between literature and society through 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 considerations both 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:

(a) F. Scott Fitzgerald’s conflicted relationship with the Roaring Twenties and how his work has come both to represent and to transcend this era

(b) Depictions of the American South and critiques of the “ethics” of the Jim Crow era in short stories, novels, poetry, and plays written by William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Gaines

(c) 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. Moreover, this course will challenge 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.