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Nov. 22, 2010

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Dr. Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 360 D
Phone: 813-974-9496

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LIT 6934 Literature of Place: Florida

Fall 2010
Time: Tuesday
3:05-5:50 pm
Room: CPR 355

  • Assignments
  • Related Sites
  • Resources for planning service learning
  • Florida Literature Blog

    1. Course Description

      Place is a meaningful location; it has particular material conditions and a relationship to the human capacity to produce meaning; it is also a way of being and knowing in the world. This course invites us to look at our home place, Florida, and study what it means using literature as one of several factors in the construction of meaning. Inspired by an article called "Teaching Hometown Literature: A Pedagogy of Place," this course invites students to discover and engage with the literature of our home. In many ways Florida's unique physical environment and history cause it to stand apart from regional study; Florida cannot, for example, be encompassed by the idea of "The South." Moreover, the cultural hybridity of Florida has produced a significant, if under-studied, literature, emphasizing the limitless potential and paradisal promise of this unique land.

        But the tremendous growth of Florida in the twentieth century has led to serious environmental problems, and the human impact on the environment constitutes a major thread in literary representation we will be studying. The environmental challenges now facing inhabitants of this place make attention to Florida a critical issue. How might the literature of Florida contribute to our understanding of our home place? Conversely, how does this unique, beautiful and diverse environment shape the literature written upon it?

      This is a new course supported by an innovative teaching grant from the Center for Twenty-first Century Teaching Excellence. Students will read a variety of authors and literature, ranging from the travel narratives of William Bartram in the eighteenth century to the letters of a female settler in the late nineteenth century and to essays, short stories, novels, poems and one play by authors including Stephen Crane, Zora Neale Hurston, Jose Marti, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, Carl Hiassen, John Fleming, Jay Hopler, Campbell McGrath, Nilo Cruz. We will read theories of place from cultural geography, art and anthropology, as well as readings in ecocriticism, animal studies, history and ecology of Florida.

      Operating with the assumption that literature gains in meaning from experiencing the site of its production, the class will travel to specific literary locations, including Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home, Zora Neale Hurston's Eatonville, Ybor City, Hillsborough River State Park, and Payne's Prairie. Our class will be instructed by guest lecturers from disciplines other than English, such as geology, geography, history. This experimental class departs from the standard lecture-discussion format by implementing contemplative pedagogy, such as meditation, journaling, nonjudgmental collaborative discussion. These methods make space for slow, mindful consideration of a text and the environment. The class borrows a proposition from contemplative environmental studies that sees a parallel between inner well being and the well being of the planet. Our focus will be local.

      This course is appropriate for anyone interested in Florida, literature and the environment, theories of place and ecocriticism, nature writing and contemporary literature, contemplative pedagogy and service learning. This course counts as a literature elective for MFA students, as a theory-rich course and an elective in critical cultural studies.

    Course Objectives

  • To engage students in a deep understanding of Florida as a place, natural and constructed, in which different groups of beings interact to produce meaning;
  • To engage students in experiencing Florida from multiple perspectives of scale, discipline, history, physical being, and social kind (this includes field trips to meaningful sites in Florida connected to our course material);
  • Through reading and writing, to engage students in knowledge of a range literary works concerned with Florida as well as theories of place, ecocriticism, nature writing and more;
  • To introduce expertise from other disciplines through the lectures and participation of guest lecturers;
  • To foster the skills and knowledge derived from a regular practice of attention, both to self and subject, through the course of a semester; that is, through focused attention and a practice of awareness, this course will engage students in understanding one's home place as a personal journey and an external exploration.
  • To provide a forum for the students' expression of their ideas and a community to support the pursuit of new knowledge (this includes sharing student writing in public spaces, such as a class discussion board or public blog);
  • To provide a framework for developing course materials for service learning to be implemented later;
  • To produce a body of original writing, critical and creative in nature, that furthers the student's own intellectual and personal goals.

  • Required Materials

    Gregg Garrard, Ecocriticism, Routledge 2004 ISBN 0415196922
    Lawrence Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism, Wiley-Blackwell, 2005 ISBN 1405124768
    Tim Cresswell, Place: a short introduction, Wiley-Blackwell, 2004 ISBN 1405106727
    Ed. Jeff Ripple and Susan Cerulean, The Wild Heart of Florida, UP of Florida, 1999, ISBN 0813016568
    Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics, Dramatists Play Service, 2004, ISBN 0822220008
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling, Aladdin, 2001 ISBN 0689846231
    Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Harper 2001 ISBN 0061120065
    Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief, Ballantine 2000 ISBN 044900371X
    John Fleming, Fearsome Creatures, Pocol Press, 2009 ISBN 1929763409
    Campbell McGrath, Florida Poems, Eco 2003, ISBN 0060527366
    William Bartram’s
    , Cosimo Classics, 2007 ISBN 1602066884
    Michael Gannon, Florida a Short History, revised edition, UP Florida 2003 ISBN 0813026806
    Carl Hiassen TBA (either Tourist Season or Skinny Dip)

    Recommended Materials

    Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men, Harper 2008 ISBN 0061350176
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Scribner 1996 ISBN 0684818795
    Gary R Mormino, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams, UP of Florida 2008 ISBN 081303308X
    The Florida Reader: Visions of Paradise 1530 present, Ed. Jack C. Lane, Pineapple Press, 1994 ISBN 156164062X
    Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species, Pineapple Press, 2004 ISBN 1561643084

    Electronic Media

    For a general introduction to electronic formats for teaching/learning, see
    USF Academic Computing Home Page.

      Electronic Discussion We will be using the USF Blackboard system and the discussion board I have created for this class. You can gain access to it through My USF. You are automatically registered by virtue of being registered for this course.

    My website: information on class, assignments and links to other important sites on literature, etc.

    Other important websites are listed following the assignments.


    Notes for each class will be updated throughout the term

    Aug 24

      Class 1: Introductions
      "Teaching Hometown Literature: A Pedagogy of Place," James M. Callahan
      Slideshow on Florida
      Review syllabus and assignments
      Review REFWORKS database

    August 31

      Class 2: History and Place -- the Local
      Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction
      Excerpt from Lure of the Local in course docs
      Florida Reader, Introduction
      Selected poems
      Post #1

    September 7

      Class 3: History and Place -- Ybor City
      GUEST LECTURER: Robert Ingalls, Professor Emeritus, History, USF
      Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics
      Selection from James Weldon Johnson (in course docs)
      Jose Iglesias, "The Radical Latino Island in the South," Tampa Bay History Spring 1996. (USF library journals online and course docs)
      Start Gannon's Florida: A Short History
      Recommended: Pred, "Place as Historically Contingent Process" (course docs)

      Post #2

    September 14

      Class 4: Field Trip to Ybor City
      Finish Gannon
      Jose Marti, Versos Sencillos (selections/translated), "Los Pinos Nuevos" (if available)
      Jose Iglesias, "Jose Marti in Ybor City," Tampa Bay History (Spring 1996), (USF Library journals online and course docs)
      Lucy Lippard, Chapter One: "Sweet Home" in course docs
      Essay selected by Mary Jo Tutterow on Jose Yglesias
      Post #3

    September 21

      Class 5: Land and Exploration
      Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling, selections from Cross Creek
      Essays on home, by bell hooks, Lucy Lippard
      Post #4

    September 28

      Class 6: GUEST LECTURER Bob Brinkmann, Professor of Geography, USF
      Selections from Priceless Florida
      Buell, Future of Environmental Criticism
      Selections from Wild Heart
      Selections from Unspoiled
      Post #5

    October 5

      Class 7: Land and Exploration, continued
      Bartram's Travels
      Selections from Campbell McGrath's Florida Poems
      “Ecocriticism and the Long Eighteenth Century” by Christopher Hitt
      Post #6

    October 9 -- SATURDAY FIELD TRIP-- Payne's Prairie and Cross Creek

    October 12

      Class 8: Land and Exploration, continued
      Finish McGrath's Florida Poems
      Selected essays from Alphabet of the Trees (in course docs)
      Garrard's Ecocriticism through chapter 4
      Post #7

    October 19
      Class 9: Water and Plants

      Orleans, The Orchid Thief
      Garrard's Ecocriticism finish
      Post #8

    October 26

      Class 10: Water and Plants, continued
      GUEST LECTURER: Mark Rains, Associate Professor of Geology, USF
      Selections from Wild Heart
      Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," in The Florida Reader
      Post #9

    November 2

      Class 11: Water and Plants, cont.
      Selections from River of Golden Ibis (Jahoda) in course docs
      Selections from Wild Heart
      Post #10

    November 9

      Class 12: Animals (species, races, sexes)
      GUEST LECTURER -- Bruce Janz, Associate Professor of Humanities, University of Central Florida
      Janz, "Places that Disasters Leave Behind," (in course docs)
      Selections from Tales of Old Florida
      Elizabeth Bishop, "The Fish," and other selected poems
      Post #11

    November 16

      Class 13: Animals, cont.
      Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, selections from Mules and Men
      Selections from Animals and Women
      Post #12

    November 20 -- SATURDAY FIELD TRIP -- Eatonville / Ponce Inlet

    November 23

      Class 14: Animals (species, races, sexes)
      Readings in critical animal studies, race and gender (tba)
      Fleming's Fearsome Creatures
      Selected poems
      Post #13

      DUE: Service Learning Projects / Bibliography-reviews

    November 30

      Class 15: Conclusions
      Post Test / course Evals
      Presentation of critical-creative projects (in progress)
      Post #14

    DUE DECEMBER 7: Portfolios with final projects

    ** Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, by the second class meeting.

    ** In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Blackboard, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. It is the responsibility of the student to monitor Blackboard site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

    Graded Assignments

    Attendance/Participation in all class activities (notebook) 5%

    Weekly Posts (14) 15%

    Written review of 4 field trips 5% each or 20%

    Leading in-class discussion 10%

    Creative-Critical Writing Project 25%

    Service Learning project -- OR -- annotated bibliograph-review 15%

    Self-Assessment/Portfolio 10%

    Description of graded assignments

    Weekly writings to discussion board:

    For each class, even when field trips or guest lecturers are scheduled, students will be expected to post an informal writing on the week's reading to the class discussion board on Blackboard. Notes and discussion questions will be posted on the syllabus, linked to the date of the class. Students should read and respond to one of the questions. These will be open ended and reflective in nature, but students can do additional research if desired. The posts should be a minimum of 300 words in length. They will be evaluated on a 3-point scale for the effort put into the writing. Full effort will be recognized by the timely submission of a writing meeting the minimal length and engaged in the subject of the class for that week. If you do not hear any response from me, you have received full credit for the post. I will only contact you regarding a post if it falls short of expectations. Students are expected to read the posts of their fellow students before posting so as to avoid repeating the same information and to engage in a conversation that builds on shared knowledge. These are informal in nature and therefore can be explorative, inquisitive, risk-taking. The idea is not to look for the single correct answer but to expand your understanding of the subjects.

    On days when we meet for discussion, these posts will form the beginning point for our class work, and so I expect students to take the assignment seriously. For more information on the ways in which this assignment facilitates learning, please see my general description on weekly posts.
    Posts are due by 11:59pm the night before class, so that all students will have an opportunity to read the posts before me meet at three.

    Attendance and Participation in all class activities:

    We will be conducting regular writing and reflection exercises in class which students are expected to complete. I recommend highly that you keep a notebook - either tangible or electronic - to record this work. The work produced in class can feed into the other assignments, such as the critical-creative project, leading class discussion, or a service-learning project. I will expect to see evidence of your participation in these in-class activities and will keep a daily record. Also, you may select from these writings the most illustrative of your learning experience for inclusion in your semester portfolio.

    Written review of four field trips:

    Students will share their reflections on the field trips in a short formal writing, posted to a class wiki. A selection of these may be posted to the Florida Literature Blog, a public blog I started. We will create a template of questions and expectations for these reviews. These writings should be 500-1000 words and follow standard MLA formatting. These will be due one week from the date of the field trip.
    Students are expected to attend all four field trips. If circumstances prohibit a student from attending, he or she may be excused from one field trip but make-up work will be expected (either in the form of an individual field trip and writing or a review of a Florida work outside the syllabus).

    In-class discussion:

    Each student will be expected to lead a discussion of one of the works on the syllabus through close attention and the construction of thoughtful discussion questions. These discussions will take place on days when no guest speakers or field trips are scheduled. Given the limited number of classes available, there will be more than one student presenting per class. Students should identify the works they will be discussing on the class wiki sign-up page; students should not prepare to discuss a work that is being discussed by another student. If you are choosing to present on one of the longer works, I recommend that you choose a section of that work upon which to focus (in which case, more than one student could present on the work, given that each selects a different focus). Visual aids, handouts and other implements of effective teaching are encouraged. As the person responsible for leading discussion, you should have contextual knowledge of the subject and a confident understanding of the piece. Please plan for a discussion not to exceed 30 minutes.

    Creative-critical writing project:

    This is the major independent work for the course and the one into which I expect students to put their best effort. Beginning with an individual question or problem that the student wants to explore more deeply, this project will involve research, writing, reflection and close attention. I encourage the students to pursue their own intellectual and creative goals in this project, and I offer the example of my Hillsborough River Project as a model. See Because each student will design his or her own project, the parameters are vague. This must represent significant work and meet the objectives listed below. Students should consult with me (and their peers) by midsemester (October 5) to discuss the nature of the project.

  • The project results in a formally written, original work, based in research, critical and/or creative thought and reflection (due by December 7). In most cases this means a written work of at least ten double-spaced pages.
  • The project involves a significant question or problem related to our place in Florida, or to Florida more generally.
  • The project has clear intellectual goals.
  • The work engages more than one media (i.e. text and photography, music, video, etc.).
  • The project advances the student's own critical and/or creative development.

    Service-Learning project or annotated bib/review of literary work:

    Students who are also teachers (TAs, teachers at other institutions) are expected to design a service-learning project for implementation in their own classes. Using the online resources (collected here) for practical advice, students should construct a project that gets their students working in the community on a specific task. The project should have a strong connection to Florida and Florida literature. The service-learning project could address a social concern of particular interest to you or the class you are teaching.
    For example, if you are interested in conservation, you might have students read nature writing on Florida and participate in a river clean up.
      If you are concerned about abused animals, you could have students read works on caring for animals (Carl Hiassen's children's novel, Hoot, for example) and have them volunteer at an animal rescue shelter. If you are concerned about the oil spill, you could assign readings from Unspoiled, and develop a project for educating the public on off-shore drilling.
    If you are concerned about the treatment of the elderly, you could have them read literature concerned with aging in Florida and develop a service project for a local retirement community or long-term care facility. There are many possibilities.
    The project you develop should demonstrate research on the particulars of the project (not just any shelter, but the name, location, contact personnel and policies of the a specific animal shelter). It should consider the practical issues of engaging the students in the service (permissions, timing, transportation, access, etc.). It should articulate a clear rationale, with intellectual and social purpose. It should include plans for assessment, which means a clear sense of the objectives and how you will measure the students' achievement. The project needs to include an annotated reading list; this need not be extensive but it should fit the practical needs of the project. In general, the plan should be ready to be implemented in the classroom.
    If you are not teaching (or if you miss one of the field trips), you will be expected to write an annotated bibliography and review of a literary work on Florida from off the syllabus. This should be a book-length work or collection. The annotated bibliography can cover scholarly work and also book reviews, as many popular literary works will not have a significant body of scholarly work to read. Your review should be a critical (i.e. thoughtful) summary of the work placed in the context of Florida Literature. Insights on how this work informs your understanding of the main themes, questions and problems in Florida literature will enrich the assignment. Depending on the amount of material to be annotated, this work should be a minimum of seven double-spaced pages in length. Selected annotated bibliographies and reviews will be posted on the public blog Florida Literature.
    We have a database on Florida Literature created for this class in Refworks (thanks to Jessica McKee and Jessica Cook). Please consult this database for use in your service learning projects and/or your bibliography and review of a literary work off the syllabus.
    This will be due November 23 and students will be expected to share a brief explanation of their projects orally in class.

    Self-assessment and portfolio:

    Due December 7, the portfolio will include your creative-critical projects in their final form, your major writings from the class, a selection of your most evocative or illustrative writings in class and/or from the weekly posts, and your self assessment. Students can use the portfolio device on Blackboard, and we will decide as a group if we want to make these available for the class to see or if you want to submit them directly to me for evaluation.
    Self-assessment: a major component of this class is reflection, and so the final evaluative measure will be your own assessment of your development in the class. At the beginning of class you will be given a pre-test that will ask you to identify what you know about Florida literature and place, and early on I will ask you to identify your goals for the course. At the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to reflect on where you have come over the course of the semester. You may find that you learned what you wanted to learn, and you may find that you entered on an entirely different journey. The important thing will be that you have thought about your development and assessed your own learning.
    Because the course is creative and contemplative in nature, the parameters of this self-assessment are open. For those of you needing assurance that you have met requirements, a minimum standard for the self-assessment would be a 1 to 2 page formally written statement.

    This syllabus is subject to change.

    Related Sites

    Florida Humanities Council: Established in 1973 as a private non-profit organization, FHC is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. FHC uses the disciplines of the humanities to develop public programs and resources that explore history, literary and artistic traditions, cultural values and ethics.

    Florida Maps excellent resource for digitized maps, many from the USF special collections. Organized historically. Hosted by College of Education, USF.

    Exploring Florida Social Studies resources for Florida, including history and maps, excellent links on Native Americans. Thousands of resources for use in the classroom.Part of the College of Education at USF and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology.

    Florida Outdoor Writers Association Chartered in 1946, FOWA is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) statewide paid professional communicators organization made up of outdoor communicators who report and reflect upon Florida's diverse interests in the outdoors to educate and encourage the public in ways to protect and conserve our natural heritage. Members cover a variety of outdoor topics including, fishing, hunting, boating, conservation, and all aspects of the environment. They are freelance writers, book authors, columnists, publishers, editors, broadcasters in radio and television, photographers, videographers, artists, illustrators, Web site designers, writers, editors, public information officers and public relations professionals.

    The Florida Book ReviewThe Florida Book Review features reviews of books with Florida settings or subjects, or of special interest to Floridians, as well as interviews and essays about Florida's literary scene. It has a new essay on Stephen Crane's relationship to Florida and Jose Marti.

    Florida Writers Association A helpful website of the association; info on connecting to other writers, the annual conference and more.

    Florida Literary Arts Coalition Blog on the news of literary events around Florida; hosted by an important group that organizes lots of speakers/readings.

    Florida Book Awards, blog. The Florida Book Awards is an annual awards program that recognizes, honors, and celebrates the best Florida literature published in the previous year.

    Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment: (ASLE, pronounced "AZ-lee") is a dynamic community of teachers, writers, students, artists and environmentalists interested in the natural world and its meanings and representations in language and culture. ASLE seeks to facilitate interdisciplinary and innovative approaches to the study of nature and culture through forms such as nature writing, art, ecocritical scholarship, pedagogy, science writing, poetry, music creative writing, and film, among other forms. This association publishes the leading journal in this field, ISLE and hosts a bi-annual conference.

    Saw Palm The literary journal published by the Department of English at USF, Saw Palm seeks to capture the unique experience of Florida life, landscape, and trope through the work of artists and writers in-state and out. Established as a web journal in 2006 by John Henry Fleming and the students of the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of South Florida, Saw Palm began publishing a print version and taking subscriptions in 2008.

    Research on Space and Place: An informational site built by Dr. Bruce Janz of UCF. Though the site needs updating, it is valuable for its many references to works related to place.

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