Though almost lost from the American literary canon in the fifty
years following her death in 1904, Kate Chopin is now one of the
highly regarded (and most often read) authors of the late
century. While her 1899 novel, The
Awakening, is well-known, her other fiction, including
novel and nearly one hundred short stories, are not so familiar.
Moreover, Chopin inhabited historical and literary contexts that a
century later are simillarly unfamiliar to many readers. This
will thus explore those contexts, both Chopin's own impressive oeuvre--short stories, poems,
novels, essays--as well as some of the writers and texts and
that helped to shape her fiction: American writers like Mary
Freeman, Stephen Crane, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sarah Jewett,
Williams Dean Howells as well as European writers like Gustave
Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekov. We
also try to gain a better appreciation of some of the contemporary
events, literary movements and issues that influenced her
perspectives--from regionalism and naturalism to Darwin and Degas,
the Haymarket Riots to the Comstock Laws, from Reconstruction and
White League to the St. Louis World's Fair. We won't, of course,
to cover all of these fascinating texts and events, but we will
as much as we can as engage in a close reading of Chopin's fiction
that of the writers who directly influenced her--or whose own work
responded to her vision. More formally, our goals include
The following is a proposed list of texts and writers, but changes and substitutions may still occur. Some of these and other texts may also be available electronically.
COMP119 or ENGL-T122 [composition] and LITC260, ENGL-T125 or ENGL-A205 or equivalent courses. in other words, this should not be your first college English course. Junior status or permission of the instructor is recommended.
Textual responses (25-30% of the final grade)
§ Each week, you will post a comment, question, or reflection (or a response to someone else's comment) on the current reading on a Blackboard forum (100-150 words: about a screenful) the day before class. Your posts will constitute a sort of online journal, reflecting your informal responses to the readings and your responses to others' comments. Entries will be graded contractually: All 16=A, 15=B, etc.
Critical writing and research
§ one brief (800-1500 words) essay (20-25%)
§ one collaborative presentation in an electronic format (prezi, wiki or website) on an assigned contextual topic or writer (20-25%)
§ a final research essay OR a developed wiki/website (20-25%)