English R1A

Reading and Composition: The Southernization of America

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2009 Pugh, Megan
Pugh, Megan
TTh 8-9:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White, You Have Seen Their Faces; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find; a course reader, including works by James Agee, Langston Hughes, William Faulkner, and others.

Film list: Gone With the Wind; The Little Colonel; Cabin in the Sky.


In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded some 27,000 square miles of American heartland, displacing hundreds of thousands of Southerners. Two years later, the stock market bottomed out and triggered the Great Depression. These national catastrophes provided a reason for the region to break with its agrarian past and explore progressive reforms. As rural Southerners moved to cities in record numbers, they brought their culture with them, a culture that was picked up by new neighbors and disseminated more broadly than ever before. Southern culture had become national culture.

This introduction to college writing and argument explores the Southernization of America from the 1930s to the 1950s. We’ll read a good deal of fiction and poetry alongside manifestos, documentary photography, music, and film. Our course material will help us ask questions about the relations between history and memory, race and nation, art and politics—themes you will explore in your papers. This is a writing-intensive course, so you will complete and revise four essays, and we’ll spend much of our time discussing how to improve your composition skills.

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