English R1B

Reading & Composition: �Horseman, Pass By�: Crossing Over in the Southwest

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Spring 2008 Bradford Boyd
MWF 3-4 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses ; Richard Rodriguez, Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father ; Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop ; John R. Erickson, The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog ; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers, fifth ed.

Course Reader: Selections from Father Eusebio Kino, S.J., Historical Memoir of Pimer�a Alta; Mar�a Chona, The Autobiography of a Papago Woman; Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire; Wallace Stegner, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs; selected poems and short fiction by Thomas Hornsby Ferrill, Amado Muro, Baxter Black, Sandra Cisneros and others. "


"What is it about the American Southwest � a region famed for sweeping vistas, a vibrant syncretic culture, and prickly traditions of independence � that perennially fascinates people of all ages and backgrounds? This course will attempt a literary answer to that question, taking as its guiding motif �crossing over,� the passing of frontiers: from youth to adulthood, from one culture to another, from this world to what lies beyond. But before an intelligent answer must come intelligent questions � the chief aim of this course, therefore, is to teach what intelligent questions to ask, and how and why to ask them. As a practical matter, this means that students will learn the skills needed to locate, analyze and write intelligently about secondary material on our syllabus authors, i.e. research skills, building on techniques mastered in R1A (or an analogous course) for writing clear, persuasive expository and argumentative prose. In addition to research skills, therefore, topics to be reviewed as needed include grammar; sentence and paragraph construction; essay structure; thesis development and argumentation; proper use of evidence; and style.

The course will, however, focus on the development of practical fluency with larger expository and argumentative units that describe and synthesize the results of student research. In addition to a short (3 page) diagnostic essay assigned at the start, each student will complete two progressively longer essays in the class, totaling at least 16 typewritten pages, with at least an equal number of pages of preliminary drafting and revising. Class time will frequently be spent on group work and in-class writing. Regular attendance, completion of the reading, and frequent in-class participation are requirements.

If you enjoy reading, researching and writing about inscrutable mystery plots, cowboy poetry (our vernacular pastoral), or epic films set in austere landscapes, or if you just find talking-dog stories entertaining, this course is for you. By carefully analyzing and writing about these stories, poems, essays, novels, paintings and films, high-art and popular alike, we will explore why hoary old genres and techniques can still delight and instruct millions of �common readers� when applied to Southwestern themes. Thus we will also pay close attention to the crossing over of literary borders: from pastoral to satire, from satire back to pastoral, and from both of these into a uniquely Southwestern mode reconciling the two. "

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