Adventure Literature: Exploring Cape Cod (4.5) Examines the interconnection of culture and nature on Cape Cod through considerations of texts in various literary genres that have contributed to development of a distinctive regional identity and culture.
ENGL 181B Adventure Literature: Exploring Cape Cod (4.5)
The purpose of this course is to teach students how natural and cultural contexts contribute to the production of meaning in literary texts. In this case, the locality that serves as the focus of study is Cape Cod, arguably the most written-about locale in the United States. The course begins with classes devoted to the Cape’s natural history—its formation and the ever-present effect of wind and water—and then moves to its early human history. Readings in the first part of the course will focus on the period just before and after European settlement and readings could include selections from William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation or Mourt’s Relation, both contemporaneous accounts of the Pilgrim’s landing on and exploration of the Cape and appropriate chapters from Paul Schneider’s history of the Cape, The Enduring Shore, and Nathaniel Philbrick’s excellent account of the Pilgrim adventure, Mayflower. These readings could be enhanced with selections on the European settlement of the Cape in Robert Finch’s anthology of writing about the Cape, A Place Apart. This introductory material will lead to the major part of the course, which will be devoted to reading and study of classic literature about the Cape, such as Thoreau’s Cape Cod, Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, Wyman Richardson’s The House on Nauset Marsh, and John Hay’s The Great Beach, as well as selections of poetry poets associated with the Cape. Each of these works, in its time, represents the writer’s attempt to somehow capture and come to terms with the landscape and natural exigencies of the Cape. The focus will then turn to representations of the Cape in the work of contemporary writers, and might include work by Michael Cunningham, Annie Dillard, David Gessner, Cynthia Huntington, and Mary Oliver among others. The course ends with a brief look at Cape Cod’s literary and natural future as it has been imagined over the last 140 years.
This course was designed to include an out-of-the-classroom education experience on Cape Cod. The trip to the cape should include experiences related to the cultural and natural history of the region, and it should provide students the opportunities to walk in the footsteps of William Bradford, Thoreau, Beston, and Hay, as well as opportunities to see for themselves how the natural features that have inspired the classic and contemporary writers of the Cape will continue to inspire future generations of artists.
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.