Sense of Place In Literature

Professor: Annette Lucksinger
Institution: St. Edward's University
Course Number: CULF 1318.06

Literature And The Human Experience
Fall 2009

Professor: Annette Lucksinger, M.A.        Class location: JBWN 130A
Office: Premont Hall 217                           Class time: TTh 2:30-4:45
Office hours: Tues. 2:00-3:15                   Voice mail: 428-1231
Th. 11:00-12:00 & by appt.                       Office phone: 637-1963
Email: [email protected]                Campus mailbox: 863
[email protected]

required books & materials:
• Reading packet for CULF 1318.06
• Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
• The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
• Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
• The Kite Runner, Khalid Hosseini
• Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey

course objectives:
The objectives of this course are two-fold: 1) that you become a better student of
literature, a more engaged and thoughtful reader, and 2) that you gain insight into the
significance of place, to a variety of peoples and in immeasurable ways. By the end of the
semester, it is expected that you will have successfully met the following objectives:

• become more comfortable with and adept at reading, analyzing and thinking about
literature
• expanded your study of literary genres
• expanded your cultural literacy through the readings, lectures and discussions
• improved as a writer
• developed a stronger sense of place and community at St. Edward’s and in Austin
• considered your moral responsibility to places and the impact that personal and
cultural forces can have on place
• come to a clearer understanding of “sense of place” and its importance

course description:
During the course of the semester we will read works from several different genres: novels,
creative nonfiction, poetry, drama and essays. We will focus on a variety of aspects of
place, beginning with a discussion of how individuals connect to places (i.e., one’s sense of
place). From there, we will examine cultural understandings of landscapes, how people
impact the places in which they live, and finally what our responsibility to place entails.
These concepts are outlined more fully below and will give you a sense of the progression
of the course:

Defining sense of place:
Sense of place can be a fairly elusive term that is difficult to define. But
as we will see this semester, stories are inextricably linked to our feelings
toward places. So we will begin our quest for a definition by hearing your
stories and discussing your personal connections to the places that you know
well. We will also discuss our shared place of Austin, Texas, our perceptions
of it and how those views have been shaped. At the same time, we will be
reading literature that investigates the complex relationships between people
and place.

Cultural ties to places:
We will consider the ways that a place can impact the culture(s) that grows
up in its midst. To what extent do things such as weather, terrain, and the
history of a place shape the culture and the day-to-day lives of individuals who
live there? How does the physical nature of the land affect cultural values and
mindsets? The readings in this unit will examine the many, sometimes subtle,
ways that people are shaped by the places in which they live.

Culture’s impact on place:
This unit also looks closely at the interplay between place and culture, but it
takes a more activist bent. Readings focus on current views and
uses of the land and how these interactions affect or alter one’s sense of
place. By the end of the semester, each of you will complete an independent
project, in which you will actively engage with a place that you feel holds some
significance, whether personal or cultural. At the same time, we will be
discussing readings that center around the ethics of place and that lead us to
question our moral responsibility to act rightly towards places.

As you can see, these ideas are not mutually exclusive. Instead, our conversations about
place will slip across these concepts as we discuss recurring themes. Hopefully this will
add depth to our understanding of place and its importance.

course grade:
Your final grade for the course will be based on the quality of the following work:
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Paper assignment 20%
Final paper/project 15%
Journal writing 10%
Daily reading quizzes, participation, hmwk 15%

field journals:
You will be given journal assignments throughout the semester. The due dates for these
are listed on the course calendar. Journals are designed to encourage you to reflect on the
readings – and to apply our readings and discussions to a place of your own choosing.
Detailed instructions will be given for each assignment. Because the purpose of these
journals is to delve more deeply into the ideas presented in the course, they will be graded
based on completion, development of ideas, and quality of thought rather than grammar
and mechanics.
Journals will be evaluated as exceptional (10), good (9), satisfactory (8), fair (7), poor (6),
incomplete or vague (5), etc. Late journals will not be accepted.

policy for late or missed work:
Late work will NOT be accepted. Reading quizzes and exams may not be made
up. All assignments are due in class and will NOT be accepted later in any form (email,
mailbox, office, etc.). If you think you will miss class for some reason, you may turn in
copies of assignments that are due that day BEFORE class by leaving it in my campus
mailbox in the Main Building (CM 863), having a friend bring it to class or by emailing it.
(In cases of a documented emergency, this policy may be adjusted.)

academic honesty:
All work you turn in must be your own. You may receive an F for an assignment or for
the course for turning in work that is not your own. This penalty is strongly enforced.

extra credit:
In addition to dropping your lowest quiz and journal grade, extra credit opportunities will
be announced throughout the semester. To earn credit, you will need to write a brief
report after attending the event, film, lecture, reading, etc. These reports should be
approximately one typed page long and include a summary of the event, followed by a
critical analysis of it. Feel free to suggest extra credit opportunities if you hear of them
and think they would fit within the focus of our class. You may turn in up to 3 extra
credit assignments over the course of the semester.

attendance policy:
Attendance is required and will be taken each class day. You may be dropped from the
course for excessive absences. Your regular attendance and participation adds to the class
dynamic, creates a tighter community, and makes the course much more fun and
engaging. Your success in the course relies heavily on your being here. In addition,
participation is part of your grade for the course and remember that assignments must be
turned in during class or they will not be accepted. Finally, reading quizzes will be given
at the beginning of each class and they cannot be made up, nor will I repeat questions for
latecomers so don’t be late!

special accommodations:
I am very willing to work with you if you have a disability that requires special
accommodations for you to be successful in the course. If you have (or suspect that you
might have) a medical, psychiatric or learning disability and require accommodations in
this class, please let me know early in the semester so that your needs can be met. You
will need to provide documentation to Student Disability Services in the Academic
Planning and Support, Moody Hall 155.

contacting me:
Email is the best way to reach me. Please feel absolutely free to email me anytime you
have a question, suggestion, or just want to discuss something outside of class. I check my
email throughout the day. (I typically check my voice mail just once a week.) I’m also
happy to meet with you during office hours to discuss any aspect of the class. If you are
unable to meet during my office hour, let me know and we’ll arrange a time that works
for both of us.