Undergraduate Course: American Innocence (ENLI10286)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The aim of this course is to examine the historiographical origins and complexities of this American mythology through the dramatization of innocence in the American novel. In particular, the genre of the coming-of-age novel (which has become, perhaps, a quintessentially American genre, despite its German origins) will be used as a focus for the scrutiny of innocence and experience.
The U.S. is often understood as a young nation, one that defined itself by means of a decisive departure from Old World customs that had grown moribund. The New World¿s emergent autonomy is often articulated in the language of a parent¿child relationship in which the U. S. is the rebellious teenager, impatient to commit itself to fresh experiences, and eager to create its own character founded on a new set of priorities and values. The figurative language of youth frequently inhabits the national mythology of the U.S., and the concept of innocence, or something designated innocence, has acquired a particular resonance in the context of American studies. Oscar Wilde once wrote that the youth of America is their oldest tradition; for how long can a nation understand itself as beginning again without seeming to acquire significant historical baggage, and what specific ideological practices continue to facilitate a view of the U. S. as young?
The aim of this course is to examine the historiographical origins and complexities of this American mythology through the dramatization of innocence in the American novel. In particular, the genre of the coming-of-age novel (which has become, perhaps, a quintessentially American genre, despite its German origins) will be used as a focus for the scrutiny of innocence and experience. Protagonists in this genre are the American Adam, caught in a moment of prelapsarian naivety, and then expelled forever into the unforgiving world of modern experience. But what specific forms of experience shape American character? Why do adult writers so often appropriate the voice of the disaffected teenager as a vehicle for social critique? What investments in youth does adult culture make, and how might that determine how `innocence¿ is permitted to be? How do women writers work successfully in a genre that was originally male? `American Innocence¿ is a course that addresses these questions through the close study of novels that problematize innocence and dramatize its fall through a variety of different American cultural experiences.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites|| A MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as civilisation or other interdisciplinary classes, Freshman Year Seminars or composition/creative writing classes/workshops are not considered for admission to this course. Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having 4 literature classes at grade A.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
| Students who complete this course successfully, will develop a close textual knowledge of a number of key American novels that depict the experiences of coming of age, and an understanding of how and why the ideas of innocence and youth have acquired such currency in the national mythology of the United States. Successful students of this course will also develop an understanding of the historiographical origins of this mythology, and an appreciation of the value of coming of age as a uniquely American genre.
|Mark Twain, Adventures of Huck Finn |
Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Charles Portis, True Grit
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
|Course organiser||Dr Sadek Kessous
Tel: (0131 6)50 3087
|Course secretary||Mr Michael Butler
Tel: (0131 6)51 1513