English R1B

Reading and Composition: Final Frontiers: America and Beyond

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Spring 2020 Ramm, Gerard
MW 5-6:30 89 Dwinelle

Book List

Abel, Jordan: Un/inhabited; Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness; McNickle, D'Arcy: The Surrounded; Ridge, John Rollin: The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta


Who said it better—American newspaper magnate Horace Greeley ("go west, young man") or Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise ("space...the final frontier")? Both appeals are iconic, but which more effectively coaxes us to think of expansion as the satisfaction of an urge, the natural will to explore the unknown? It's no secret that science fiction draws on scenes of earthly frontiers to construct an imagined future within and beyond our solar system. This course will offer a series of comparisons between Sci-Fi and Amercian frontier fiction to explore the relationships of settlers and indigenous peoples in each, as we consider how the representation of the "west" and "space" converge and veer apart. We'll be reading Native American novels, short stories, and poems in alternation with some seminal works of science fiction (and yes, we'll watch some Star Trek). By putting these two literary traditions in conversation with critical texts, anthropological sites, and U.S. policy papers, we'll create fertile conditions for the formation of research questions.

This course will teach analytical writing through a range of different assignments. We will be engaging one another in critical conversations on literature, film, and media to distill our arguments from different works, themes, and issues. Through shorter writing reflections and a 10-page final research paper, students will hone their rhetorical skills and learn to express new insights on art, entertainment, and the material/conceptual constellations of exploration and expansion.

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