Capstone Experience: Speculative Pasts - Writing Intensive (online)

ENGL 4970W
Section 02
Maureen Konkle
Asynchronous Online
Course Description

The "genre turn" of contemporary fiction occurred when writers began incorporating aspects of genre fiction--especially horror, fantasy, and science fiction--into literary fiction, with the result that many critics of literary fiction are not quite sure how to read. This capstone course examines one part of the genre turn, that of minority writers' works of historical fiction, to investigate the relation between genre fiction and literary fiction on the one hand and the aesthetic and intellectual possibilities offered by the "speculative pasts" invented by contemporary minority writers on the other. Books include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Diaz; The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016); and Washington Black (2018) by Esi Edugyan. As a writing intensive capstone that fulfills graduation requirements for the English major, this course requires a 10-12 page researched critical paper that integrates readings of literary texts with critical scholarship. We will devote about half the course to writing this paper through multiple stages of research, writing, and review. The course also provides an opportunity for reflection on educational goals and achievements as well as some planning for the future.