English 4382: Major Authors

Topic for Fall 2022: Washington Irving

Pre-requisite(s): 3 hours of ENG credit and 3 hours from the Literature in Context DL, and upper level standing

Instructor: Dr. Tracy Hoffman

Textbooks: Students are not required to buy books We’ll use online resources.

Often referred to as “The Father of American Literature,” Washington Irving (1783-1859) represents America’s literary past, yet the study of his legacy has significantly increased in the twenty-first century. Irving’s writing and biography validate his significant role in the development of American literature, his acumen for belles lettres, and the universality of his work. Much like a charcuterie board, Irving’s short story collections display variety. In The Sketch Book, he describes his writing as a smorgasbord of options: “…amidst the variety of appetites, seldom does a dish go away from the table without being tasted and relished by some one or other of the guests…With these considerations, [the author requests] the reader, if he should find here and there something to please him, to rest assured that it was written expressly for intelligent readers like himself; but intreating him, should he find any thing to dislike, to tolerate it, as one of those articles which the author has been obliged to write for readers of a less refined taste” (Twayne edition, 299).

Like a buffet table, Irving’s assorted subjects and genres give every reader something to savor. This course will move through Irving’s writing in a similar fashion. Guided by Dr. Tracy Hoffman, president of the Washington Irving Society, the class will sample Irving’s large body of writing. We will read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and other selections from his transatlantic trilogy of short story collections. Investigating portions from Irving’s biographies about Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and the prophet Muhammad will give students opportunity to tackle complicated and controversial texts. Important chapters from A Tour on the Prairies, based on Irving’s trip through Oklahoma Territory, where he met Sam Houston, will give us insight into Irving’s Texas connections. Sifting through Tales from the Alhambra will remind the class of Irving’s fluency in Spanish and his ambassadorship to Spain. As the holidays near, the class will enjoy Irving’s Christmas stories to recreate the festive vibes of Bracebridge Hall in Carroll Science. No books are required since Irving’s texts are readily available online. Assignments include a midterm, final, short podcast, and a critical edition.

Dr. Hoffman set up this page for students interested in taking her English 4382 class in the fall. She’ll be adding a course description, textbook list, etc. for students. After the class gets moving and after she finishes teaching the course, she will also be adding resources for other Washington Irving fans to access.

Published on February 21, 2022 at 1:24 pm  Comments Off on English 4382: Major Authors  
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