Honors | Town and Country (HON)
H226 | 13018 | Scott Herring
This class also meets with ENG-L 202.
Are you a city slicker or bona fide hoosier? Is your Zip code from
inside the Circle City or from the hinterlands of IN? Does your
family come from Martinsville or Schaumburg or Owensboro? And why
do these questions seem to matter so much? No matter where you
live, almost all of us have an opinion on the differences between
the country and the city. Usually, it’s not very pretty. This
class will tackle this topic—its history from the Romans to Amy
Poehler, its stereotypes, and where it may be going in contemporary
American culture—over sixteen brief weeks. Along the way, the
course offers you a further introduction to literary
interpretation. We’ll read some novels, a play, a memoir, and a
short story. We’ll also listen to few songs and watch a film. To
make the large topic of “town and country” manageable, the course is
divided into three sections that each addresses a different theme:
pastoral, migration, and places left behind. In “Pastoral,” we
start with Book Two of Virgil’s Georgics on the uses of olive oil,
move to Our Town and My Ántonia, and end with some songs by John
Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Gladys Knight and the Pips.
In “Migration,” we’ll cover two classic works in African-American
literature, Sula and Their Eyes Were Watching God, then a
heartbreaking memoir about Haitian refugees by Edwidge Danticat.
In “Places Left Behind” we’ll read short stories by Bobbie Ann Mason
and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and address some local tensions between
Bloomington’s recent Slow Food movement and the IN-37 Cracker Barrel.