Art & Identity in New Orleans

HNRS 109 Spring '18



Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Rebecca Solnit & Rebecca Snedeker, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas
Natasha Trethewey, Bellocq’s Ophelia
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Additional Text chosen from list

Selected stories, articles, essays, and poems (to be shared via Google Drive)


Attend class. Two unexcused absences will lead to a reduction in your final grade. Three or more unexcused absences will lead to failure. If you know that you’ll have to miss a class, let me know ahead of time and make arrangements for a classmate to pick up any material distributed in class and to inform you about any assignments.

Turn in assignments on time. Late work will be penalized one letter grade for every day (not every class) that it is late. All work will be submitted via Google Drive or on the class blog: If you do not know how to use Google Drive, you should consult with the academic computing office. Documents should be named in this manner: YourName.exercise1.doc (or docx).

Complete required blog posts prior to class discussions of the assigned reading. In order to most effectively discuss your own observations and ideas on the assigned reading, you should plan to complete your reading in time to compose, revise, and proofread your blog posts prior to class discussions of these works. You are welcome — even encouraged — to go back and revise or expand your posts after our class discussions.

Be prepared for class. You are expected to participate in the discussions in class in a thoughtful, responsible, and energetic manner. It is imperative that you come to class prepared. Read all assignments prior to class discussions. Our schedule will no doubt require adjustments as the semester moves forward, but assume we’ll get to whatever’s on the schedule unless I explicitly push back (or forward) an assignment.

Proofread your work. I expect all work to be free of mechanical errors. Assignments with persistent and egregious errors will be returned ungraded. If you are unsure about mechanics – when to properly use a semicolon, for example, or how to correctly punctuate dialogue – please consult one of the many guides or make an appointment at the Academic Resource Center.

Attend Writers Series events on campus. (Please plan ahead so that you can resolve conflicts that you might have with any required readings, lectures, or performances.)



Blog posts 20%
Research and Presentations 40%
Final project 20%
Class participation 20%



At the heart of this class are the art and literature and culture of a particular place: the city of New Orleans. As with all art and literature and culture, though, an appreciation for its value begins with enthusiasm. You’re going to be asked again and again this semester to find your way toward material that spurs your enthusiasm. What do you want to know?

We’ll be reading essays, stories, novels, poems, and plays this semester. By learning to identify what makes these particular texts interesting, entertaining, informative, or compelling, you will begin to understand the relation between literary texts and life itself — i.e., how the formal qualities of a particular literary genre may be used by the writer to explore the various subtleties, difficulties, moral dilemmas, and triumphs that are a part of being human.

By conducting research, organizing your thoughts, and presenting your ideas to your classmates in informal discussions and formal presentations, you should come to see that literature is comprised of many components, each of which is part of a complex, integrated whole, each of which is available for discussion, analysis, and debate.