Universität Wien FIND

120009 SE Literature Seminar / BA-Paper / MA American/North American Lit./Studies (2018S)

Prairie Literature in the USA and Canada

11.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work

Details

max. 18 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Participants are invited to attend an international workshop planned for 14 June on “Ideas Crossing the Atlantic” at which experts will consider the transatlantic dimension of the sociocultural evolution of the prairie regions in the heart of North America. This workshop will also serve to make up for sessions which will be canceled in late May and/ or mid-June.

Wednesday 14.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 21.03. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 11.04. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 18.04. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 25.04. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 02.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 09.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 16.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 23.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 30.05. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 06.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 13.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 20.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A
Wednesday 27.06. 16:00 - 18:00 Seminarraum 6 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-O1-22.A

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

The settlement of the North American prairies was facilitated in the USA by the building of the transatlantic railroad and by legislation that encouraged the settlement of pioneers through the Homestead Act of 1862. In Canada, the Dominion Lands Act of 1872 followed the American model, with both acts attracting European immigrants, who were able to acquire land for a very small fee. The greater challenges of the physical setting in Canada, which Northrop Frye contrasted with the generally less menacing American environment (cf. his juxtaposition of the resulting “frontier” and the “garrison” mentalities in the two neighboring countries) slowed this process north of the 49th parallel in Canada, but by the early 20th century many ethnic individuals and groups settled in the emerging Canadian prairie provinces too. The narratives based on these collective experiences make up a sizeable part of the "epic" of the two countries.
Among the texts to be studied in the seminar are two stories and a novel by the prominent American fiction writer Willa Cather, whose masterpiece My Ántonia is said to have captured the atmosphere of the vast landscape of the American West and to have mediated the memory of the challenges of the pioneers. They had come from various parts of the Old World or from other regions of the American continent.
The stories representing variants of the Canadian experience on the prairies illustrate the hardships faced by pioneers of different ethnic backgrounds, who had to struggle with severe weather conditions and also with drought in the 1930s. The early stories by Frederick Philip Grove, a German writer who had adopted a fake identity in Canada, and Sinclair Ross, the interconnected narratives by Margaret Laurence, and the various texts by the exiled Austrian writer and scholar Henry Kreisel, as well as the narrative explorations of the lot of indigenous individuals and groups by the Mennonite author Rudy Wiebe exemplify some aspects of the wide range of voices articulated on the prairies. The selection of texts to be studied is rounded off by a pointed narrative of Thomas King, the important advocate of Aboriginal rights, whose career suitably crosses the border between the two neighboring nations.

Assessment and permitted materials

Participants will have to submit a written seminar paper of 20-22 pages and offer an oral presentation. Regular attendance, active class participation, and two written reports on seminar sessions or a relevant workshop on 14 June of up to two pages will be expected. There will also be a final written essay test.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Student presentations of research papers on the topics chosen, general discussion of the texts contained in a Reader comprising short fiction by one US American and a number of Canadian authors reflecting diverse views of the lives of individuals and ethnic groups in the Mid-West, and one novel by the major writer Willa Cather. Familiarity with the discussed texts is to be demonstrated at the final essay test. Oral contributions and two session reports 25%, seminar paper 50%, final test 25%.

Examination topics

Students will have to become familiar with the chosen texts and the socio-cultural backgrounds of their authors and the characters depicted in the narratives, which mirror the settlement of the prairies, the struggle for the transformation of the land, the various challenges experienced by the newcomers, and the indigenous population they encountered there. The participants in the seminar should also come to understand the various forms of narrative mediation of this complex phenomenon. Students qualified to attend and interested in participating in the seminar are encouraged to volunteer for an early topic. Please contact me when you are willing to prepare a presentation of the first four topics (on Willa Cather's texts and on F.P. Grove's narratives).
1. The Presentation of the Nebraska Landscape and the Challenges of Immigrant Experience on the Prairies in Willa Cather’s My Antonia (Relate the book also to the history of settlements on the Great Plains).
2. Narrative Technique and the Presentation of Society on the Prairies and the Evocation of Atmosphere in Cather’s My Antonia.
3. Pioneer Experience and the Memory of Experiences on the Atlantic Coast and in the Old World in two Stories by Willa Cather : “Neighbor Rosicky” and “A Death in the Desert”.
4. The Struggle of Settlers on the Canadian Prairie in F. P. Grove’s Story “Snow” (Consider also the author’s biography and his sketch entitled “Snow” in Over Prairie Trails).

Reading list

The stories to be analyzed are contained in a Reader that can be acquired at Copy Studio. A copy of Willa Cather's My Ántonia is to be purchased. The bookstore on Campus Facultas has promised to supply enough copies.
A reserve-shelf containing reliable editions containing the texts and a selection of relevant studies (biographies of the authors, some collections of essays etc.) is available on the upper level of the Institute’s library.

Association in the course directory

Studium: UF 344, BA 612, MA 844;
Code/Modul: UF 4.2.4-322, BA 10.2, MA5, MA7;
Lehrinhalt: 12-0264

Last modified: Fr 31.08.2018 08:42