Southern Literature

ENGL A438-001
Wednesdays 6:20-9:00 p.m

Dr. Barbara C. Ewell
        loyola university new orleans  

Note: This information was posted October 20, 2015; all material here is provisional and subject to change. Check for updates.

This course will explore the literature of the American South and some of the historical and social contexts of this remarkable literature, including its extension across national borders into the Global South. We'll begin with a few major nineteenth-century texts, including a extended consideration of southern local color fiction, and then we'll concentrate on twentieth-century fiction, with a possible detour through the Tennessee Williams Festival and conclude with a sampling of some contemporary southern writers. By close readings and writing about a range of authors from different historical periods, with different economic and racial backgrounds, writing in a variety of genres, we will try to identify and understand some of the ideas and attitudes that make the South such a distinctive region of the United States—and its literature so crucial to our national identity.

More formally, our goals include:
•    understanding the varied traditions of writing and writers in the American South;
•    recognizing and assessing the values embodied in these texts and traditions;
•    examining some of the diversity in southern experience and how individuals confront those differences;
•    articulating and exploring in writing, both formal and informal, some of the texts and contexts of southern literature;
•    gaining experience in oral and electronic presentations;
•    exploring the relevance of these writings and issues to our own life and times.

Proposed Texts
Note: Some of these (and other) texts may be available electronically. Starred texts (*) may become alternate readings, so don't buy those that you don't want to read.
If you're trying to cut costs, many texts are also available secondhand through other commercial booksellers. All of these texts have been ordered through the Loyola Bookstore; some texts may also be available for rental at the bookstore.

Douglas, Ellen. Can't Quit You, Baby. New York: Penguin, 1988. ISBN-13: 978-0140121025 ($18.00)
Douglass, Frederick. A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. New York: Dover Thrift, 1995. ISBN-13: 978-0486284996 ($1.50)
Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom! New York: Vintage, 1990. ISBN-13: 978-0075536574 ($9.00)
Franklin, Tom. Poachers. New York: Harper Collins, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0688177713 ($12.95)
*Gwin, Minrose, The Queen of Palmyra. New York: Harper, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0061840326 ($14.99)
*Martin, Valerie. Property. New York: Random House, 2004. ISBN-139780075713309 ($14.00)
O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. New York: Harcourt, 1983.  ISBN-13: 978-0156364652 ($13.95)
Tretheway, Natasha, Native Guard. Boston: Mariner Books, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0618872657 ($13.95)
Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom's Children. New York: Harper, 1991 ISBN-13: 978-0060587147 ($3.99)
Welty, Eudora. Texts to be provided.

Southern Local Color Stories of Region, Race, and Gender. Eds. Barbara C. Ewell and Pamela Glenn Menke. Athens: U Georgia P, 2002.  ISBN-13: 978-0820323176 ($24.00)
             [Selections from this text will be provided online, but you may want your own complete copy.]
Williams, Tennessee. TBA. [We may attend a performance of a play at the Tennessee Williams Festival.]

Course Prerequisites
COMP119 or ENGL-T122 [composition] and LITC260, ENGL-T125 or ENGL-A205 or equivalent courses.

  • Weekly Comments [30-35% of the final grade]
    Each week, you will post a comment, question, or reflection (or a response to someone else's comment) on the current reading on a Blackboard forum (100-150 words: about a screenful) the day before class. Your posts will constitute a sort of online journal, reflecting your informal responses to the readings and your responses to others' comments. Entries will be graded contractually: All 16=A, 15=B, etc.
  • Southern Letters Presentation/Prezi [20-25%].
    This assignment (probably done in pairs) will focus on an important or influential cultural text of or about the South, will involve a presentation to the class, and will include a contribution to a collaboratively-produced wiki or prezi. The presentation should summarize the text, indicate its influence and suggest some specific connections to the literature we are reading. More details will be developed in class.
  • Formal Essay(s) [25-30%]
    There will be at least one (possibly two) short formal essays (800-1800 words) on topics to be assigned.
  • Final Examination [20-25%]
  • A comprehensive examination, consisting of essay questions and possibly some short-answer questions.

    BE WELL home page