Dysfunctional Families and Self-Discovery


course description

The primary goals of this course are to better your writing abilities and research practices. The books we will read focus on characters who need to discover their identities, and these characters all discover importantances about themselves through their families and pasts. We will attempt to do the same. Some of your research will consist of researching your own families: customs, practices, old family stories, secrets, even. You may also use research methods to produce knowledge about your hometown or city. Much of our identities are shaped by the people and places we grew up around. What’s your hometown like? What kind of family do you come from? These are ideas we will explore both through literature and in our own lives. The goals are to not only produce better writing and research skills, but also to learn new things about our families and ourselves. Through the semester, you will be expected to produce roughly 20 pages of polished work. These pages will consist of three major assignments.

Required texts

Oral History, Lee Smith
Bloodroot, Amy Greene
A River So Long, Vallie Lynn Watson


course schedule

R            Jan 8                   Syllabus, Introductions, Writing Sample (count as response)

T            Jan 13                 “Lures of Last Resort;” “Real Life” Response due
R            Jan 15                 “Safari;” “The Lost Brother”  Response due

T            Jan 20                 Oral History: Prologue-Granny Younger (13-68)
R            Jan 22                 Oral History: Pricey Jane, Almarine, Rose Hibbitts, At the Burying Ground(68-94) Response due

T            Jan 27                 Oral History: Richard Burlage (97-166)
R            Jan 29`               Oral History: Little Luther Wade, Mrs. Ludie Davenport, At the Smith Hotel, Jink Cantrell, (169-207)

T            Feb 3                  Oral History:  Ora Mae, Richard Burlage (207-229) Response due
R            Feb 5                  Oral History: Sally, Epilogue (233-286)

T            Feb 10                Family tree project due, Research Discussions
R            Feb 12                Personal Family Essay due, Research Discussions continued

T            Feb 17                Bloodroot: 3-52 Response due
R            Feb 19                Bloodroot: 53-98

T            Feb 24                     Bloodroot: 101-149 Hometown assignment due
R            Feb 26                Bloodroot: 149-198, Response due

T            Mar 3                 Bloodroot: 198-242
R            Mar 5                 Bloodroot: 245-294, Response due

T            Mar 10               No Class—Spring Break

R            Mar 12               No Class—Spring Break

T            Mar 17               Bloodroot:  294-343
R            Mar 19               Bloodroot: 347- 365 Family Story assignment due

T            Mar 24               Discuss ending of novel and workshop/problem shoot ideas for research papers
R            Mar 26               Library Day—sources due

T            Mar 31               Conferences
R            Apr 2                 No Class—Easter Break

T            Apr 7                 Conferences
R            Apr 9                 A River So Long: Glow of Blue- Garden Party (1-45) Response due

T            Apr 14               A River So Long: Days Uncounted-Restless (46-73)
R            Apr 16                  Research Paper due A River So Long: Packing-No Simple Highway (74-113)

T            Apr 21               A River So Long:  Lined with the Light of the Living- Alone Among the Wreck(114-165) Response due
R            Apr 23              Skype with Vallie Lynn Watson, author of A River So Long     

T            Apr 28              Review for Final, Class Discussions, Portfolios due, etc.

Final Exam: 11 AM, Monday, May 4


Taught at Belmont University, 2015