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Course Information

Instructor Info:L. Brown Kennedy
Office Extension x5509
Susan Tracy
Office Extension x5518
TA Info:Nick Smith
Sarah Brewer
Anna Wise
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106

Constructed as almost a mythic fiction by its own major novelists and historians and stereotyped in the popular media, the US "South" is also a set of multiple stories told by former slaves and slave holders, by women and men working in factories and mines, fields and homes. Through analysis of fiction, autobiography and some films, together with reference to debates in the current historical scholarship, this course introduces you to South(s) of starkly contrasting geographies and economies. We will trace themes that span the period from the 1880's to the 1990's: the aftermath of slavery, war and Reconstruction; the roles of family, religion, memory and myth-making; the tensions of poverty, individualism, and community; the growing split between rural and urban life; the relations among classes, races and sexes; the impact of and reaction to Civil Rights and to other Twentieth Century liberation movements.

Course Objectives:


Students will be expected to attend regularly and to prepare carefully for and participate in class discussion. Writing. There will be 4 short papers (500-750 words)on various readings and films and two longer papers (6-8 pages), one with a literary focus and the other an historical focus. You will rewrite one of these two papers, expanding and developing it after additional reading and research, and submit the final version along with your other writing in your portfolio at the end of term. (See assignment sheet for details.)  Expect to spend a minimum of 9-12 hours per week on this class.

Group work. You will be part of a presentation panel on one of our final units:  Mountains and Mines; Mills and Labor Unrest; the Civil Rights Movement. Another option, by arrangement with the faculty, is for you to develop (alone or with others) a presentation on the music (or other art form) of a geographic section of the South or a particular historical movement or moment.      Films: You are expected to attend the scheduled showing of two films or to arrange an alternative.


Booklist. The following books have been ordered for you at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street (in downtown Amherst on the north side of the Amherst Common). The history reading is in documents and articles on the Moodle website for our class:

William Faulkner                  Go Down Moses

Charles Chesnutt                  TheMarrow of Tradition

Eudora Welty                       Delta Wedding

Richard Wright                     Uncle Tom’s Children

Zora Neale Hurston              Their Eyes Were Watching God

James Still                            River of Earth

Carson McCullers                 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Alice Walker                           Meridian



Additional Info:
TRIGGER WARNING: Some of the assigned material this semester involves explicit depictions of violence, including sexual and racial violence and abusive language.  We  note below  a number of assigned readings that address different kinds of  political, economic, social and interpersonal violence; but no listing can reflect all concerns, and there may also there may be times when such triggering material enters into class discussions and presentations without adequate warning.   In such cases, any student is welcome to step out of the room to take a break, or leave class for the day if needed.   However,  very many readings in US history  and literature contain material that may be  seriously distressing; and our recommended readings and recommended on-line  archives can present a larger minefield of triggers.  If you are concerned about your ability to navigate this course material,  please come speak to one of the instructors or the T.A.s  about your concerns.