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Please note: Honors Program students may register for one honors course per semester. 

Spring Semester 2022

  • HON 127HA — American West in Culture & Literature
    • Dr. Tracie Guzzio
    • MW 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
    • 3 Credits

     “We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Walking.”

    “But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest…” (Huckleberry Finn) — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    This course considers the American West not only as a specific location but also as a historical and cultural concept. How has the concept of the American West permeated our vision of the American self? How does the American West influence our image of the environment — its geography of “wide open spaces”? Its resources? How does the image of the American West present us with a paradoxical picture of the landscape as both an idealized, pristine wilderness and as a border between savagery and civilization? How has the “promise of the west” influence the narrative of the American Dream? How has the icon of the American frontier — its myth and reality — determine the ways we discuss American historical moments like ‘Manifest Destiny?” American progress? How have these mythic historical stories impacted such groups as immigrants and marginalized Americans — the Other (Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, Latinos, and freed African American slaves) in these narratives? How has the highly masculinized image of the American cowboy and the violence of the American West affected our understanding of gender?

    We will address these questions with the vocabulary and research methods essential to critical reading, thinking, and writing. It is our objective to express what we learn through well-reasoned and well-written discourse in an analysis of American history and culture. We will be reading literary works such as On the Road, Roughing It, Ceremony, and No Country for Old Men as well as historical studies such as The Empire of Innocence and Gunfighter Nation; we will also look at selections from nature writers like Edward Abbey and Gretel Ehrlich and view clips from films like The Searchers and Lone Star. The course will be evaluated on a couple of short response papers and presentations and a final research paper. Using historical texts, literature, and film we will have a better understanding of the ways that the image and the narratives of the American West continue to determine the way we see ourselves, our communities, our history and our culture.

    5USC/CC – U.S. Identities

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