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Seminar in Prose Fiction: English 573, Regionalism, Race, and Nationalism
Spring 2013 * Wednesday 2:50-5:30 p.m. * Avery 110

Last Modified: March 21, 2013 12:34 PM

Donna M. Campbell
357 Avery Hall, 335-4831
Office Hours: W 12-2 and by appointment. I will be on campus a lot this semester, but the hours won't be the same each week.
Virtual office hours: Skype or Gchat: dmcampbellwsu

Course materials available at http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/engl573/index.html

Course blog: http://regionnation.wordpress.com
Twitter: @campbellcourse

Required (Note: Some texts will be online.)

Print versions

Alexie, Sherman

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Grove Press




Austin, Mary

The Land of Little Rain

Modern Library





American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings





Welch, James

The Heartsong of Charging Elk





Wharton, Edith

Ethan Frome and Summer

Modern Library




Bell, Michael (ed.)

Sarah Orne Jewett: Novels & Stories

Library of America




Cather, Willa

Willa Cather: Later Novels

Library of America




Mena, Maria Cristina

Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena

Arte Publico Press




Watanna, Onoto

A Half Caste and Other Writings

U of Illinois P




Sui Sin Far

Mrs. Spring Fragrance

U of Illinois P




Course Description

This seminar explores American regional literature from the local color movement of the late nineteenth century to the neoregionalism of the late twentieth century. In the late nineteenth century, local color or regionalism served as a national forum for concerns over Gilded Age capitalism, urbanization, and the emergence of literary professionalism, and it became a means of engaging in national debates over immigration, imperialism, race, and nationalism. By the end of the twentieth century, regionalism in its newer forms, including critical regionalism, had become a means of exploring multicultural perspectives that underlie urban ethnic realism and the contact zones of contested ethnic spaces, such as the Southwestern U.S.-Mexico border.

In reading regionalism, we’ll consider its temporal, spatial, and affective dimensions: its construction of the past to codify particular kinds of race-based social control; its function as what Richard Brodhead has described as a “transitional object” to ease the anxieties of an “insecure modern age”; its use of nostalgia and occasionally sentimentality to enshrine an imagined past and idealize the primitive; and its contributions to a national narrative that enshrined and naturalized certain kinds of race- and class-based power. We’ll also explore the ways in which regionalism employs emerging technologies of viewing and representation, from photographs and anthropological representations of folkways, including medical and food cultures, to the souvenirs, curios, and other objects of material culture that Bill Brown contends are a close analogue of the genre. In addition, we will consider the ways in which regional literature contests its status as a “minor literature” in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense of the term.

Primary texts for this class will include work from the following authors: Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Bret Harte, Charles W. Chesnutt, Edith Wharton, Sui Sin Far, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Flannery O’ Connor, Leslie Marmon Silko, Cormac McCarthy, Jim Harrison, and Sherman Alexie. Critical and theoretical readings will include essays from June Howard, Krista Comer, Lucy Lippard, Douglas Powell, Benedict Anderson, José Límon, Hsuan Hsu, and Judith Fetterley and Marjorie Pryse. Assignments are all geared toward eventual presentation or publication: a 30-minute oral presentation; minor 5-minute presentations of critical material; and two papers, one of conference length and one longer paper that may be based on the same topic.

Among the issues we’ll consider:

Note: These assignments are subject to change.

    Primary Texts Secondary Sources



No class




Introduction: Historical and Literary Backgrounds

Hamlin Garland

Bret Harte

Mary Hallock Foote, "Maverick" (Century, Aug 1894)




Communities and Subversion
Presentation: Aminah

Rose Terry Cooke

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman




Regionalism: “Queer Consciousness,” “Minor Literature”

Sarah Orne Jewett

  • Deephaven
  • The Country of The Pointed Firs
    “The Foreigner”

Proposal for paper 1: email to campbelld@wsu.edu




Global/Local: Fictions of the Color Line

Presentation: Jenn

Kate Chopin

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

George Washington Cable




Dismantling the Master's House
Presentation: Nicola

Charles Chesnutt

Thomas Nelson Page

“Marse Chan” and “Meh Lady” (.pdf version)

Paul Laurence Dunbar




Technology, Ethnography, and Representation

Sui Sin Far, from Mrs. Spring Fragrance:

  • “In the Land of the Free”
  • “Mrs. Spring Fragrance”
  • “Its Wavering Image”
  • “The Americanizing of Pau Tsu”

Onoto Watanna, A Half Caste and Other Writings:

  • “A Half Caste”
  • “A Contract”
  • “Delia Dissents”
  • “The Wrench of Chance”

Paper 1 Due

Skype presentation: Dr. Mary Chapman (tentative)



Ethnography and Appropriation
Presentation: Kellie

Mary Austin, The Land of Little Rain

Zitkala-Sa, American Indian Stories:

[Note: There are fewer stories here than on your original syllabus; we will not be reading the other stories]




Region and Empire
Presentation: Jenna

Maria Cristina Mena, Collected Stories:

    • “The Vine-Leaf”
    • “The Gold Vanity Set”
    • “The Emotions of Maria Concepcion”
    • “Marriage by Miracle”
    • “A Son of the Tropics”

Proposal for Paper 2 due by email to campbelld@wsu.edu

10 3/13 Spring break  



Grotesque Regionalism
Presentation: Lindsay

Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome  
Wharton, Summer
Wharton, "The Angel at the Grave"
Wharton, "Bewitched"




Regionalism and Modernism
Presentation: Courtney

Willa Cather, The Professor’s House

Ernest Hemingway, selected stories





Contemporary Fiction
Presentation: Aree

Welch, The Heartsong of Charging Elk

Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven




Contemporary Northwest Regionalism: Molly Gloss, Mary Clearman Blew, etc.

Guest speaker: Dr. Billy Merck on Northwest fiction

Publication Workshop

Paper 2 due to respondents



Paper 2 due
Paper Presentations 1



Paper Presentations 2  
17 5/1 Exam week: Optional Individual Conferences on Publications  

Course Requirements

Attendance and Participation. Attendance and good class participation are essential.

Papers . You’ll write two papers in this course, the first a conference-length (8-10 pages) treatment of a topic, and the second an extended paper (15-25 pages; page limits are flexible) suitable for submitting to the journal of your choice or for using as the basis of a dissertation chapter. The first paper can be based on your presentation topic, if you wish, or it can form the basis for your longer paper. The presentations at the end of the course will be based on the longer paper, which you’ll need to edit down to conference length.

Proposals and Responses. Since one of your professional responsibilities as scholars will be to submit proposals to conference, you’ll prepare a 200-300 word proposal for each of the papers you will write in this class. These will receive comments but not grades. You’ll also prepare a response to a classmate’s paper during the last two weeks of class, which you will then deliver as part of the conference-style presentations at the end of the course.

Late Papers and Extensions. Late papers are penalized at the rate of one letter grade (10 points) per class day late; a paper that would have received a "B" on the due date will receive a "C" if handed in on the next class day. If no paper is turned in within 4 class days (due date plus three more days), no credit will be given and a 0 will be averaged in for that portion of your course grade.

You have one 48-hour extension in this class. This extension means that your paper will be due on the next class day, which could be more than 48 hours.You must request the extension ahead of time, and you should save it for a true emergency, since no other extensions will be granted for illness, funerals, weddings, or any other reason.

Presentations and Article Critiques.

Article Critiques. In addition to reading primary texts, we'll be reading some classic but mostly current criticism on the works so that you'll have a good sense of what approaches are being published now. We'll read all the articles, of course, but each week three or four people will be responsible for preparing a brief summary and critique (about 1 page) of one article each. These need not be terribly formal; their purpose is to allow the "article expert" to raise questions and discussion points about his or her article rather than do a formal presentation of it. The summary and critique can then be posted to the wiki at regionalism.pbwiki.com for future reference, along with any points that the "article expert" would like to add from our class discussion. You'll all take turns being an "article expert," but you won't need to do this every week; you'll be the "article expert" about three times during the course of the semester. A signup sheet will be available during next week's class.

Presentations. Each member of the class will give a 30-minute presentation at one point during the semester. This might take any one of several forms: preparing information about the author or authors assigned for that day and presenting a set of new ideas or questions for the class to consider; giving a new interpretation of the work; providing a contextual overview of an author or work; or analyzing and critiquing current critical perspectives. You will need to provide a brief handout for the class, preferably one that includes a short annotated bibliography of your sources, an outline, and relevant quotations or information from your sources. During the last week of class, you'll present a conference-length version of your second paper to the rest of the class.

Plagiarism Policy. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's words or ideas. This definition includes not only deliberately handing in someone else's work as your own but failing to cite your sources, including Web pages and Internet sources. Penalties for plagiarism range from an F on the paper to failing the course. If you turn in a plagiarized paper, at a minimum you will receive a grade of F (0 points). You will not be allowed to rewrite the paper, and the incident must be reported to the Office of Student Conduct (http://www.conduct.wsu.edu/academicIntegrity.asp).

WSU Statement on Academic Integrity. As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. To maintain the academic integrity of the community, the University cannot tolerate acts of academic dishonesty including any forms of cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty.

WSU Statement on Disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability. Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course. Late notification may mean that requested accommodations might not be available. All accommodations must be approved through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) located in the Administration Annex

Approximate weights for grades:

Paper 1, 20%
Presentations, 20%
Paper 2, 45%
Attendance and Participation (including proposals and short written responses to papers), 15%