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Nora Hickey,

Course Description

What is a renegade? Outsider? Pioneer? In this course, we will explore the trajectory of the renegade in American Arts and Literature from the 19th century emergence of Jazz, to the modern tale of Chris McCandless as told in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. Our studies will focus on the construction of identity in these literary and cultural texts. In particular, we will examine how these works portray and celebrate the diversity and dynamism of those that forged their own, new paths in modern American frontiers. We'll focus on renegades who have reached "success," and also study those that have met worse fates, in part due to their unwillingness to conform to societal standards.

Through our critical written and oral examinations of renegades, we will be able to articulate aspects of our own desires to buck the system.

Readings and Texts

Jon Krakauer–Into the Wild
Leslie Marmon Silko–Ceremony
Art Spiegelman–Maus
Tim O'Brien-The Things They Carried

Malcolm X
Margaret Atwood
James Baldwin
David Foster Wallace
Ruth Ozeki
Frederick Jackson Turner

Films and Other Course Materials

Grizzly Man–Werner Herzog
Crumb–Terry Zwigoff

Course Fee


Student Requirements

You will be required to write academic papers, give two presentations (one - individual, one-group) and participate in class discussions. Students must attend three legacy lectures. For the final project, each student must prepare and write a major research paper investigating a person they consider to be a modern day renegade. Be prepared to actively discuss events of yesterday and today!

About the Instructor

After receiving my BA in English Literature at Kalamazoo College, I attended the MFA program in Creative Writing at UNM. My main focus was poetry, although I enjoy writing and reading widely. My poetry appears in numerous journals. I currently write for the Weekly Alibi, the local alternative weekly in Albuquerque, and teach freshman about composition and creative writing. I am very much looking forward to teaching my first Honors College course on women in poetry and comics in spring 2015.