Writing About Literature: Literary Mirrors

Across Time and Space
Section 03
William Kerwin
Course Description

Would you like to think about novels, plays, and poems from very different times and places?  Wanna get out of the strict historical periods?  This course looks at paired (or trebled) texts as a way to think about what literature can do.  There will be four units. First, we will read How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck as novels of American movement.  Then we turn to two other novels, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and Beloved by Toni Morrison, considering the way they also present journeys as both individual and cultural struggles.  Turning to the stage, we will read three plays—Bacchae by Euripides, Hamlet by William Shakespeare, and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry—as tragedies of family, nation, and cosmos.  Finally, we will read poetry by three authors—William Wordsworth, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Seamus Heaney—as examples of lyrics that convey place. 

You will write a fair bit in this course.  You will write a short paper for six of the shared texts, experimenting with different critical perspectives.  As a final project you will do more individual research, looking into two short texts of your own choosing and doing a comparative and researched commentary on them.