University of Washington: Traditions in American Fiction
Traditions in American “Fiction” (ENGL 350) is not a traditional course on “American fiction” (novels). It imagines “fiction” as a fluid, contested term that has been and continues to be subject to revision. Students approach the question of how various early U.S. texts represent the world with an eye toward the compound resonance of “fiction.” The word implies both imagination—with its positive suggestions of freedom and creativity—and invention—with its suggestions of falsehood and deception. Both meanings hint at the power of “fiction” (and public texts, in general) to engage and affect the world.
This wiki-based site allows students to approach the U.S. literatures of the late 18th C and early 19th C in terms of a series of related problems organized around what the critic Raymond Williams calls “keywords.” Students use the site to work collaboratively to describe, contextualize, and understand these problems, rather than trying to solve them definitively. The definitions of keywords that students generate not only direct the course but also serve as the basis for its major assignments.
Students must modify each of their groups' two keywords pages at least twice per week. A modification consists in 1) changing a page and 2) commenting on these changes in the page's discussion area. By posting on this site, students are consenting to have their work published on the Web, where it may be read by a range of people (some of whom may not be students in ENGL 350 or even at UW).
How to use this site:
- Create an account. Click on the tab in the top right-hand corner of this page. (Please remember your logon info.)
- Send me your user name by e-mail, so I can activate your account. You will only be able to modify pages once I have activated your account.
- Click on the "class roster" link below. Note your group number and the keywords your group will be responsible for updating.
- Clicking on the "live" links below will take you directly to keywords pages.
To edit a keywords page:
- Click on the "edit" tab at the top of the page.
- Make your changes directly to the document.
- Preview your changes.
- If your changes look okay, save them.
- Finally, comment on your changes in the discussion area. (Access this area by clicking on the "discussion" tab at the top of a keywords page.)
Collaboratory Lead: Steve Tobias, University of Washington
- In-class exercise (1/14/08 & 1/16/08): ENGL 350: Public, ENGL 350: Servant, ENGL 350: Virtue, ENGL 350: Work
- ENGL 350 Final project (due 3/19/08)