ENGL2924H: Myth and Magic in American Literature (Honors)
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This honors course explores the liminal spaces between the accepted world of our ordinary lives and alternative realities: the world of gods and monsters, spirits and ghosts, magical occurrences, supernatural intuitions, and mystical dangers. It proposes there is much to be learned from work where rational explanations break down and other orders of reality reflect the everyday world in fresh and provocative ways. The machinations of Grendel, the monster of Beowulf, may teach us about the monstrous impulses inside us—what it means to be an outsider or to feel as natural what others consider taboo. A Native American Chippewa woman can transform into an avatar for ancient traditions assaulted by the modern world, and an African American boy grows up and learns to fly. The course will proceed chronologically, beginning with America’s first major literary figure, Washington Irving. It will cover the stories just described— Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court John Gardner's Grendel, and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon—as well as others by authors including Edgar Allan Poe, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who all composed short stories rooted in myth or magic, as well as the poets Anne Sexton and Joy Harjo, among others. The course focuses on topics including American folklore and tales of dread, playing with
Miller, Matt. (2021, Fall), Syllabus, ENGL2924H: Myth and Magic in American Literature (Honors), Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.