Honors | Town and Country (ENG)
L202 | 6718 | Scott Herring


TuTh 9:30-10:45am
WH 204

This class meets with HON-H 226.

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.