Spring 2015 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
What is a masterpiece? Through this course, we consider how others have answered this question by studying the concept of canonization and the basics of literature; how we as individuals have answered this question previously through our literary choices (low brow and high brow, required and self-directed); and how we should begin to answer this question in the future about literature and other forms of artistic expression. We focus on the genre of the short story and read works by well-known authors, including Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Flannery O'Connor, and Anton Chekhov, in addition to lesser known ones. The course uses short stories as a means of accessing a wide range of works by men and women of different races, religions, and regions with an emphasis on American and British literature from the 1830s to the present.
In short, we read the canon of the nineteenth and twentieth century short story while asking why these stories and authors receive the label of "masterpiece"--and make the anthology--while others might not. This helps us to focus on the concept of literary value. We ask how and why the culture or literary establishment has defined these works, their themes, and their foci as great. Further, we ask what these works reveal about the author's cultural values and current readers' ideals and priorities. To do so, we practice setting literature within its historical, cultural, and literary context. However, the primary emphasis is an introduction to a wide range of authors, themes, and writing styles in hopes of demonstrating the concept of masterpiece.
The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 7th edition. Eds. Richard Baush and R.V. Cassill. New York: Norton, 2006. Print. ISBN 978-0-393-92611-8.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
10% presentation, individual
20% reading response posts, 10 total
10% course participation
5% discussion leading
40% reading response papers, 4 total, two pages each
15% final creative project or research paper