Adventure Literature: Exploring the Chesapeake Bay (4.5) Examines the interconnection of culture and nature in the Chesapeake Bay region through the literature of the region.
ENGL 181A Adventure Literature: Exploring the Chesapeake Bay (4.5)
The course focuses on a specific place--the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed--
that has generated a distinctive regional identity and literature from its natural and social context. The course begins consideration of the concept of watershed, both as a geographical concept and a literary metaphor, before turning to an examination of the culture(s) and nature of the largest and most important tributary of the Bay, the Susquehanna River. Students will read texts associated with the history and the development of the Susquehanna, with some emphasis on logging, rafting, mining, and hydropower development. Readings here should aim at helping students see how a regional cultural identity has evolved from the river’s geography and economics. Focus on the Bay itself, students can learn similar lessons. We begin by looking at the rich native cultures that occupied the region before the advent of Europeans and then move to initial European exploration and settlement. The class might then focus on development (agricultural, cultural, and industrial) of the Bay and Bay Region generally, through readings that might include regional histories and literary works like James Michener’s Chesapeake: A Novel. Significant attention should be devoted to the sub-culture of the Chesapeake waterman, a regional identity that has generated its own mythology and folklore and has been the focus for numerous writers. Texts might be chosen to show the role nostalgia plays in conceptions of the Bay or the ways in which issues of race, class, and gender are raised by examining representations of the waterman culture. What students should see is how literature and culture are transformed over time, while resonances of former place identities remain. Finally, the course will turn to the Bay as it is today and how the representation of place and regional identity in literature has changed over time.
This course was designed to include out-of-the-classroom educational experiences on the Susquehanna River and other tributes of the Bay and on the Chesapeake Bay itself. The trips should provide students opportunities to fully understand the interconnections of nature and culture in the Bay region. They should also allow students the chance to travel in the footsteps of the writers they read in venues throughout the region. The goal is to both see how a distinctive culture derived from the natural circumstances of the Chesapeake and to understand how that culture might continue (or not) into the future.
General Education: GH
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2011
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.