Identities Inside and Outside Culture
Spring 1994


English 4306-001 Office Hrs.: 2:30-2:30; 405 CH
MWF 9-9:50 Schedule an appointment; Phone:273-2692
200 Preston Please include name and phone number if you leave a mesage.
Dr. Roemer  


1. An intensive study of four of Herman Melville's works: Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, "Bartleby, the Scrivener," and "The Portent."

Moby-Dick is a multi-genre text; the other three represent different genres: novella, short story, poetry. Despite these generic differences, each incorporates one or more fictional characters or historical figures who are raised in a particular culture but define themselves in significant ways by attempting to stand outside or against that culture: e.g., Ishmael, Quequeeg, Ahab, Billy, Bartleby, and John Brown. We will discuss several aspects to the four texts, but we will focus on the nature and the aesthetic, cultural, and ideological implications of the protagonists' attempts to position themselves inside and outside of their cultures.

2. Comparative literary and cultural examinations of Melville's heroic insider-outsiders with selected male and female; upper class and working class; white, African-American, and Native American insider-outsiders created by Poe, Hawthorne, Jacobs, Stowe, Twain, Chopin, and Zitkala-Sa.

The comparisons will involve discussions of the degree to which an individual can stand outside of his or her culture, the degree to which issues of gender, race, and class determine this positioning, and the degree to which the presentation of these issues is affected by historical period, intended audience, and the genre of the text.

3. Training in writing a research paper.



Billy Budd
Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
Uncle Tom's Cabon
Connecticut Yankee
The Awakening

On Reserve: "Bartleby," "Portent," "Young Goodman Brown," "Artist of the Beautiful," "Ethan Brand," "Perilous Passage," "School Days"

Readings in primary and secondary sources for the paper. If you don't have a copy of the MLA Handbook, I would strongly recomend that you buy one.


Introduction to the Course 1/19

Melvillian Paradigms of Heroic Insider-Outsiders

Readings: Moby-Dick 1/21-2/9
Billy Budd 2/11,14
"Bartleby" and "Portent" 2/16

First Exam 2/18

Comparative 19th-Century Notions of the Heroic Insider-Outsider

Readings: Poe, Pym 2/21,23,25
Hawthorne,"Brown,""Artist,""Brand"2/28; 3/2 Jacobs, "Perilous Passage" 3/4
Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin 3/7,9,11
Twain, Connecticut Yankee 3/14,16,18
Spring Break 3/21,23,25
Chopin, The Awakening 3/28,30;4/4
Paper Prospectus Due 4/4
Zitkala-Sa, "School Days" 4/6

Second Exam 4/8

Individual Conferences to Discuss Prospectus 4/11,13,15

Oral Presentations and Discussions of Papers in Progress 4/18-5/4

Paper Due 5/6

Papers Returned and Discussed 9 a.m. 5/11


Each of the exams will consist of two parts: (1) identifications and short answer questions taken from the readings and classes; (2) an essay question related to the goals of the course. The class before the exam, both parts of the exam will be described in detail in writing. The primary criteria for grading include demonstration of an ability to concentrate on the question, to construct logical arguments, and to support the arguments with relevant and specific examples from the readings.


As early in the semester as possible, students will select paper topics related to the reading assignments. (It is not necessary to choose an argument or topic directly related to the insider-outsider focus of the course.) I strongly recommend that students contact me about their paper topics and approaches before they turn in their prospectus on April 4. (You will be given detailed instructions about the prospectus.) The prospectus will guide your oral presentation and the paper research and writing. In the paper, you will be expected to offer convincing reasons why your topic and approach are significant and to demonstrate your ability to use both primary and secondary sources to articulate and support your arguments. The quality of the mechanics of the paper (grammar, usage, spelling, etc.) will also influence the grading.


Two Examinations (50%); Paper (50%: prospectus: 15%; oral report: 15%; final draft: 70%). Improvement and consistent contribution to class discussions can help to raise semester grades. A student with more than 5 unexcused absences will be dropped. If you plan to drop, be sure to follow University procedures. Under normal circum-stances, no late work is accepted.