Louisiana Literature                                
(an online course)*

ENGL A-351:W01  SPRING 2016
Dr. Barbara C. Ewell

[Part of the New Orleans Studies Minor]

Note: Information posted October 20, 2015; all material remains provisional and subject to change. Check for further updates.

The rich literary heritage of Louisiana deserves a course of its own. Settled by Europeans early in the eighteenth century, Louisiana has been shaped by many forces, including the slave-holding culture of the South, the rural Acadian refugees, and the complex perspectives of its major port city, New Orleans. In recent times, those primary cultures have been overlaid by twentieth-century tensions of industrialization, especially in the exploitation of oil and gas. Writers and audiences have found this confluence of cultures irresistible, and the writings about the state include works by some of American literature's most significant figures, from George Washington Cable and Kate Chopin, to Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren, to Ernest Gaines and Anne Rice.

Requirements will include reading and reflection on the texts, participation in weekly discussion forums on Blackboard.com, and the completion of a multi-part research and writing project on a Louisiana writer, and a final collaborative electronic presentation of your work.

* An online course is conducted through the internet (Blackboard), though there will be an organizational on-campus meeting on Friday afternoon January 22 (5:30 p.m.--7:30 p.m.) in BOBET 100 (The WAC Lab) and a final class meeting on Friday evening, May 13 (5:30 p.m.) Please contact me after January 11, if serious hardship or unavoidable conflict will keep you from attending the required organizational meeting. Students within driving distance should plan to attend--and attendees will find that the course goes much more smoothly. To be successful, online courses require that students have some degree of self-discipline.

Tentative List of Required Texts:
The following is a proposed list of texts and writers, but changes and substitutions will occur. Some texts may also be available as e-texts. Don't buy anything yet that you don't want to read.

Butler, Robert. Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. 1992; New York: Grove, 2001.
Chopin, Kate.  At Fault, 1890.  Ed. Bernard Koloski, Penguin 2002.
Gaines, Ernest. A Lesson Before Dying. 1993; New York: Vintage, 1997.  ISBN: 0375702709
Gautreaux, Tim. The Clearing. New York: Vintage, 2004.
*Neufield, Josh. A. D. New Orleans After the Deluge. New York: Pantheon, 2009. 037571488X
Northrup, Solomon, Twelve Years a Slave. 1853; New York: Dover, 2000.
Osbey, Brenda Marie. All Saints: New and Selected Poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP. ISBN: 0-8071-2198-3
Saxon, Lyle.  Children of Strangers . 1937; New Orleans: Pelican, 1989. [New edition: 2011]
Warren, Robert Penn. All the King's Men. 1946; New York: Harcourt, 1996.
Wells, Rebecca. Little Altars Everywhere. New York: Perennial,1996. ISBN: 0060976845

Instant Access: The Pocket Reference for Writers. Michael L. Keene and Katherine H. Adams. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. ISBN: 0072819928

These books may also be available for purchase at your local bookstore (support your local bookstores!). If you're trying to cut costs, many texts are also available secondhand through other commercial booksellers. Some may also be available as rentals.

Course Prerequisites
Credit for Composition, Writing about Literature or their equivalents. Sophomore status or permission of the instructor is recommended. Online courses require some maturity and self-discipline; this should probably not be your first college English course. Contact me if you have any questions about taking an online course.

Course Requirements
Weekly Comments  (35%)
The heart of this course (apart from reading the texts themselves) will be our electronic "discussions": asking and answering each other's questions and sharing our responses. These discussions will be conducted on the "Discussion Board" of Blackboard.com.  Students will be expected to post a substantive comment  (200-300 words) in response to the text and my introductory remarks by MONDAY midnight. By the next THURSDAY, everyone in the class will have commented on or reacted to the responses of least two other people (150-200 words each).

Your participation in these weekly discussions, including the timely submission of comments and responses, will be graded contractually (all assignments = A; fewer = B, etc.) and will constitute your "class attendance."

You will be responsible for timely and regular contributions to the discussion group every week. If any lateness or irregularity persists in your submissions, you will be asked to drop the course or receive a failing grade.

Keeping up with these discussions is one of the most challenging parts of an online course, and falling behind is the chief reason for attrition--just remember that "online" isn't the same as "self-paced."

Writing Assignments (25-30%)
The formal writing in this course will be a series of assignments based on the contexts of and works by Louisiana writers, both those covered in the course and from a supplementary list.  These assignments, due throughout the semester and involving various degrees of research, will provide some of the basic content for a final collaborative presentation.

Wiki Presentation of Research (15-20%)
A final collaborative electronic presentation (wiki or website) on one or more of the writers covered in the class to be presented at the final on-campus meeting.

Final Examination (15-20%)
A comprehensive essay exam.


  • Blackboard
  • BE WELL home page