American Masterpieces 321 (RRN) -- The American Frontier
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
Fall Semester 2003, NC 204, Tuesday – 12
Description: In this course we will explore the
following themes as they appear in American Westerns and Vietnam literature: (1) the definition of
"frontier" and the role the frontier plays in shaping an American
identity in literature; (2) the distinction between the West as a place or
landscape and the West as a symbol; (3) the mythic western hero and the roles
he and/or she plays in the formation of American values including our sense of
justice, independence, community; (4) the defining and re-defining of
"masculinity" and "femininity" as those cultural terms are
used in the movement west; (5) the different discourses (voices) in American
westerns and Vietnam literature; and (6) the evolution of Western myths and the
significance of those cultural myths as we conclude the year 2003.
·Shane by Jack Schaefer
·The Quiet American by Graham Greene
·The Oxbow Incident by Walter Van-TilburgClark
·The Jump-Off Creek by Molly Gloss
·Fools Crow by James Welch
·Gabriel’s Story by David Anthony Durham
·When I Was a Young Man by Bob Kerrey
·Shrapnel in the Heart by Laura Palmer
·Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
fromCloseRangeby Annie Proulx
We will read Chapter Twelve from Ian Frazier’s On
the Rez and three short stories from Close
Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx:
"The Mud Below," "A Lonely Coast," and "Brokeback Mountain." Copies of the chapter and
these stories will be placed on reserve in the ViterboUniversity library.
Learner Outcomes: The students will become
familiar with the history of the American western and “frontier”
literature and the literary conventions and themes of both genres. The
students will demonstrate in writing and discussion a connection between
the themes identified in American westerns and frontier literature with the
history of the movement west, their personal experiences, and the experiences
of others within and without their culture.The students will demonstrate in writing and discussion fulfillment of
Core Abilities 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Requirements and Assessment:
For an "A" the student must satisfy the
·Have one or no absences.
·Read all of the required texts and
participate in class discussions.
·Write four three-to-five page response
essays on any of the assigned texts.
·Complete a superior project and present the
conclusions to the project to the class at the final exam session. Click here
for some sample project assignments.
For a "B" the student must complete the
·Have no more than two absences.
·Read all of the assigned texts.
·Write three two-to-three-page essay
responses to any of the required texts.
·Complete an excellent term project.
For a "C" the student must complete the
·Have no more than three absences.
·Read all of the assigned texts.
·Complete a term project.
Schedule of Class Meetings
Week One: August 26
Introduction to the American Western and Vietnam War Literature
Movie clip from "City Slickers"
Begin reading Shane
by Jack Schaefer
Selection from Journals
of Lewis and Clark "North Dakota journals
from the spring of 1805" on reserve in the library
"Reading the West:
Cultural and Historical Background" pp. 1-51 in Reading the West:
An Anthology of Dime Westerns on reserve in the library
from The Literary West on reserve in the library
Frontier" from Oxford History of the American West on reserve
in the library
for the hypertext of the Journals of Lewis and Clark
for a web site on the history of the Vietnam War