Why has Missouri recently captured so much attention in popular culture? How do authors from Missouri shape how we understand it?
From Gillian Flynn’s novels Sharp Objects and Gone Girl to the Netflix original series Ozark and the Academy Award winning film 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the state of Missouri has occupied a large part of popular consciousness in recent years. But this isn’t only a recent occurrence: Missouri has a history of culturally influential writers from when it was Missouria and Osage territory, its part in the Civil War, and its role in the American imagination as “the gateway to the West.” How has Missouri—the local people, politics, art, and geography—influenced these texts? What do they have to say about the state to people who read, watch, or listen to art produced by writers from the state? In this course, we will look at a wide variety of writing produced in or by Missourians, including fiction by Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, and Gillian Flynn; poetry by T.S. Eliot and Marianne Moore; music by Sheryl Crow and Nelly; and much more. We’ll consider how a region influences its writers. We’ll also think about our own role as readers and writers living in central Missouri.
English 2310 is a core course for the Minor in Missouri Studies.