What makes a home? Is it an apartment? A native country? Or something less tangible—a feeling or a thought? In this course, we’ll devote close attention to a series of texts that address these and related questions. In the first half of the semester we’ll examine stories about building homes, thinking through the way these texts depict physical space, and what those spaces mean to us and to the stories that contain them. In the second half of the semester we’ll hit the road, considering travel accounts and fiction that focus on leaving—or sometimes destroying—homes. During this part of the course we’ll ask about homes that are bigger than houses, and about being homeless. We’ll consider what it means to be traveling or on the road. And we’ll consider space again, this time thinking about how texts depict unfamiliar places.
Since this an R&C course, its major aim is to help students develop their prowess as readers, writers, and thinkers. We’ll spend time learning tools for building effective analytical arguments as well as tactics for expressing those arguments clearly in writing. In addition to several essays over the course of the semester and reading assignments for each class, students can expect to complete regular short homework assignments as well as participate frequently in class discussions.
Possible texts include:
Sherman Alexie, “Traveling”
Isaac Babel, “My First Goose”
Willa Cather, My Antonia
William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways (selection)
Homer, The Odyssey (selection)
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time
David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Kelly Reichardt, Night Moves
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping