Tu/Th 02:00-03:30 35 Evans Instructor: Aurelia Cojocaru
“America! I put the word on a page, it is my keyhole,” writes Russian-Jewish- American poet Ilya Kaminsky in a poem that describes his journey from the Soviet Union to America. In this class, we will read travelogues, essays, fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Europeans who have visited, settled in or even “conquered” America. What can these authors tell us about America that the locals do not notice? Can we trust their accounts? How do these authors’ perceptions of their own countries change and what do they discover when they decide to travel back East? Why does it matter that some of them write in English?
Our transatlantic texts will be drawn from a variety of historical periods and cultures. By engaging with a number of historically relevant texts, starting with The Diario of Christopher Columbus, we will critically examine the myths of European presence in America. By reading contemporary writers, such as, among others, Vladimir Nabokov, Czesław Miłosz, Joseph Brodsky, Lara Vapnyar and Aleksandar Hemon, we will discuss how the “American dream” has been shaped by recent developments in European history, in particular the Cold War and its aftermath.
This is writing intensive course. Through a series of workshops, peer reviews and tailored assignments, we will learn the fundamentals of college-level analytical writing. Based upon your critical interpretations of the texts, you will complete a number of graded assignments, including a diagnostic paper and four analytical papers (two of which will include revisions). Other requirements will include weekly reading responses as well as in-class participation.