English 441: Seminar in American Literature (Theme: American Literature and Innovation)

CATEGORIES: Department News

Fall 2022; T/Th 2:10-3:25 pm

Dr. Rochelle Raineri Zuck

Have you ever wondered what it was like to write with a quill pen or to make books using a letterpress printing press? How literary “technologies” shaped the development of American literature? How networks of writers and readers created innovative and impactful literary genres? We’ll explore these and other questions in English 441, a seminar focused on American literature and innovation. This seminar will focus on the development of American literature from the quill pen to the internet and has several planned workshops and experiential learning opportunities built around the theme of literary innovation. It connects the literature classroom with Iowa State’s emphasis on innovation by promoting experiential learning and team-based projects as well as close reading and analysis of American literature and criticism. Readings for the course will include works by Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Harriot Jacobs, and more!

Students in this course will use the skills and perspectives they gain through hands-on learning opportunities in the creation of a collaborative final project on nineteenth-century narratives of slavery and freedom produced by African Americans, a key example of literary innovation. This course fosters a diverse set of skills and capacities that English 441 students can transition from academic to professional settings, including critical thinking and writing, literary and historical research, engagement with various forms of literary “technologies,” basic understanding of copyright law as it applies to images and printed texts, and website design and digital content creation. Let’s build something together!