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Teaching

Courses at Kenyon College

Course descriptions and syllabi:

Course Materials:


Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Kenyon College Department of English
ENGL 202

Students in this workshop will write imaginative nonfiction in any of its traditional forms: memoirs, reflections, polemics, chronicles, idylls, lampoons, monographs, pamphlets, profiles, reviews, prefaces, sketches, remarks, complaints--anything but the traditional college essay. As in other writing workshops, attention in class will be paid above all to the writing itself, word by word, sentence by sentence.

Prerequisites: submission of writing sample and permission of the instructor. Check with the English department administrative assistant for submission deadlines.

Sample Syllabus (pdf file)

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The Confidence Game in America

Kenyon College Department of English
ENGL 271

A confidence man is not necessarily a crook; he is simply someone in the business of creating belief. Abraham Lincoln, rallying the nation to the Union cause, was a confidence man in the good sense, while P. T. Barnum, charging people to see his "Fejee Mermaid," was a con man of the shadier sort. But how exactly do we tell the difference between the two? More broadly, how does the story someone tells, and the way that it is told, lead us to believe or to disbelieve?

This course will focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers who both shaped and disturbed American confidence: Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, P.T. Barnum, Herman Melville, Henry D. Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, and Mark Twain. We will also look at one modern movie, The Sting.

The term "confidence man" first appeared in the United States. It is apt then that we read our own tradition asking as we go: What is the American story? Why do we believe it?

Sample Syllabus (pdf file)

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Imagining America

Kenyon College Department of English
ENGL 103.08. Fall 2005.

Students in this course will read a set of imaginative responses to America and its history. We will begin with Shakespeare's The Tempest, written just after the establishment of a European colony in Jamestown. A selection of Native American stories and a Puritan sermon will follow. By the end of the course we will have read selections from Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry D. Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and Maxine Hong Kingston. We will also consider Frank Capra's movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Throughout the course we'll track a number of themes that have recurred in American literature: the idealization of nature and the frontier, the erasure of history, optimism about the future, various models of freedom, and the tension between community and the self-reliant individual.

This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair.

Sample Syllabus (pdf file)

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