Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Welcome to ENGL 436!
Hello students! I am excited for us to embark on our readings for this semester, which I think are going to be interesting for all of us. We are going to investigate texts by authors who were writing from the "outside" in some way or another, a notion that depends on our acceptance of the idea that there are "streams" in American culture (i.e., a "mainstream" and something marginal to that mainstream). As you can acknowledge, there are always people-- be it in a school, in a workplace, on a sports team -- who feel as if they don't "belong" for some reason or another. This feeling of being an outsider, whether it is a feeling that is embraced or one that is struggled against, has long caused people to craft texts that make strong social and/or political commentaries on the more dominant American culture of their era. In fact, many of these textual commentaries have inspired in readers a desire to fight, along with the authors, for change (and such changes have included women's suffrage, the emancipation of enslaved peoples, increased tolerance for various kinds of immigrants, etc.). We are going to be reading some texts that make such commentaries and we are going to investigate the political and social circumstances in America that catalyzed them. I am excited to read these texts with you and for us to earnestly engage with these writers, who I have dubbed "other" writers (against or) within the canon of American literature -- a large idea with which we will grapple right away.