Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice (e.g. cancellation of on-site teaching and conversion to online exams). Register for courses/exams via u:space, find out about the current status on u:find and on the moodle learning platform. NOTE: Courses where at least one unit is on-site are currently marked "on-site" in u:find.

Further information about on-site teaching and access tests can be found at https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

Warning! The directory is not yet complete and will be amended until the beginning of the term.

123223 SE Literary Seminar / BA-Arbeit / MA American/North American Lit./Studies (2021S)

Social and Racial Divides in Fiction from the American South

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


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 18 participants
Language: English



Vorläufig online
Mittwoch 18:15-19:45
Beginn: 10.03.2021


Aims, contents and method of the course

The dramatic events in Washington on 6 January 2021, and the preceding demonstrations and conflicts in the USA have shown how polarized the society in the United States has become. The racial and social divides have been particularly apparent in the American South, no doubt partly a consequence of the burden of history, with slavery and the delayed implementation of civil rights legislation after many decades of segregation. After the end of the Reconstruction Era the region saw economic stagnation, widespread poverty and the sad lot of hundreds of thousands of indigent sharecroppers, both white and black, and radical divisions in society, which have not been bridged despite the economic boost of the New South and the development of the affluent so-called “Southern Rim” (Phoenix- Dallas –Houston – Atlanta – Charlotte).
Many important writers have addressed the grave societal problems in Dixie, with racial violence (and numerous notorious cases of lynching) and far-reaching segregation, and have exposed the shortcomings in its diverse sub-regions, including the long resistance to reforms and the application of civil rights legislation.
The seminar is to consider some of the fictional texts, both stories and novels, which mirror these historical realities, especially in the Deep South, and reflect attempts to overcome the many obstacles to establish a fair and just social system. - The seminar will also offer a preparation for an international interdisciplinary conference which will hopefully convene in November 2021, when international experts will deal with the disconcerting phenomena of “Polarization in the North Atlantic Triangle”, a conference with a clear focus on the USA.

Assessment and permitted materials

The seminar will offer an opportunity to discuss short stories and novels by prominent writers from the American South, especially from the Deep South, such as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Carson Mc Cullers, Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines, and will put them in the context of the at times disconcerting developments in the social sphere, with serious problems involving indigence, segregation and racialist violence.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Participants will submit a written seminar paper or bachelor paper, and offer an oral presentation. Regular attendance and active class participation are expected, though due to restrictions possibly resulting from Corona developments the course may eventually partly be taught online. Depending on the development of the restrictions and possible difficulties with oral contributions, there may instead be two additional short reading reports. There will be a final written test on the topic of the seminar.
Student presentation and written seminar paper, 50 %
Oral contributions in class and two written reports on seminar sessions 25%
Final essay test 25%

Examination topics

Students will have to be familiar with the chosen novels and the short stories jointly studied in class and be able to discuss them in their contexts.

Reading list

A reader containing short stories by William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Alice Walker (about 50 pp.) will be available before the end of this month (at Copyshop). In addition, the participants will have to acquire copies of C. McCullers' novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and Ernest J. Gaines' "A Gathering of Old Men".
A list of seminar papers will also be announced by the first week of March.

Association in the course directory

Studium: BA 612, MA 844; MA 844(2)
Code/Modul: BA10.2, MA5, MA7; MA 4.1, 4.2
Lehrinhalt: 12-0375

Last modified: We 21.04.2021 11:26