ENH 378: American Southwest Literature and Film


Patricia Murphy

Course Description :

Regional identities emerge in all nations—but especially in nations as large and geographically diverse as the United States. The unique topography of the American Southwest has informed how humans have settled, expanded, and flourished; but also how they have recorded those experiences through art such as literature and filmmaking. In this course we will define “Southwestern” not only as it relates to geographical and topographical boundaries, but also as it relates to politics, gender, class, race, and history. We will pay particular attention to Arizona, Mexico, and Texas as states with a strong historical Native American and Mexican influence, but also as states who have experienced explosive growth over the past four decades. We will finish by examining this growth in urban centers, while debating how that growth has changed cultural, political, and ecological notions of the Southwest. We will study material in three units: Borderlands, Native American culture, and Urban Contemporary Southwest. Using textual analysis of 6 novels and 6 films, some questions we will seek to answer during the course of the semester include:

•  How do texts define the Southwest? How do texts influence popular opinion about cross-cultural interactions, land use, politics, gender, class and race?

•  How do texts contribute to romanticizing the Southwest as an unspoiled, exotic, unknown territory? How do the mythologies of the Southwest intersect with contemporary culture?

•  How do imagined cultural geographies relate to actual physical landscapes?

•  What role does fantasy play in the representations of Southwestern land, culture, and history?

•  What is the relationship between texts produced in the region to contemporary notions of national and transnational Southwestern identities?

•  Very often, books and films about the desert Southwest portray land as protagonist or antagonist. Why does land play such a prominent role?

•  What ecological, topographical, political, cultural and historical factors converge to create “Southwestern” texts?

Required Texts : GET YOUR BOOKS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE becasue they can be hard to acquire and I won't take "no book" as an excuse for missed work. Our texts can usually be found at all three campus bookstores: West, Tempe, and Poly, but please CALL BEFORE YOU GO to see if they have copies. Here are the following customer service numbers: Main campus: 480-965-3191, West campus: 602-543-6800, Poly campus: 480-727-1168. If you are unable to locate books at the closest campus, you should contact one of the other bookstores and have them transferred to your location.

Required Books:

ISSN Number AUTHOR TITLE Est. Price Pub Year Publisher


Rudolfo Anaya Bless Me Ultima $14 1999 Grand Central Publishing
082631922x Alberto Rios The Iguana Killer $16 1998 University of New Mexico Press
143104918 Leslie Marmon Silko Ceremony $16 2006 Penguin Books
72434201 N. Scott Momaday House Made of Dawn $17 2000 McGraw Hill
684854457 TM McNally Almost Home $17 1999 Scribner
61097317 Barbara Kingsolver The Bean Trees $8 1998 HarperTorch


The films are available through the ASU library and through Netflix and Blockbuster. Plan ahead when ordering so that you can view the films in time.

Required Films:

Title Director Year
The Milagro Beanfield War Robert Redford 1998
Lone Star John Sayles 1996
Smoke Signals Chris Eyre 1998
Dead Man Jim Jarusch 1995
Raising Arizona Coen Brothers 1987
The Tao of Steve Jenniphr Goodman 2000

Required Work :

Reading Responses- Worth 20% of your grade. For each reading response you must:

• meet the word-length requirement of 350 words (or surpass it). This equals one double spaced page in 12 point times new roman.
• use short quotes to support your response
• provide analysis (using literary terms) rather than summary (retelling)
• respond to one other student with a 175 word follow-up (choose a student whose response has no follow-up response yet)

Reading Responses are graded out of 10 points, making the total possible score 100.

100 points 100% A
90 90% A
80 80% B
70 70% C
60 60% D
50 50% E

Writing Journal - Worth 20% of your grade. For each journal entry you must:

• meet the word-length requirement of 350 words (or surpass it). This equals one double spaced page in 12 point times new roman.
• use short quotes to support your response
• provide analysis (using literary terms) rather than summary (retelling)
• respond to one other student with a 175 word follow-up (choose a student whose response has no follow-up response yet)

Writing is graded out of 10 points, making the total possible score 100.

100 points 100% A
90 90% A
80 80% B
70 70% C
60 60% D
50 50% E

Essay 1 - Worth 20% of your grade.

Essay 2 - Worth 20% of your grade.

Essay 3 - Worth 20% of your grade.


Grading Scale:

I use the My Grades function in myASU, but only as a "counting" system. Under Reading, Writing and Workshop I record points for every assignment you complete. I also record absences as 1-4 out of 4 allowed absences. Please do not try to get a final grade from My Grades on Blackboard because I only use it to count--not to calculate final grades.

To determine your final grade for the course, multiply each of your Required Work percentages by its weighted percentage in this course and add these numbers equals your final grade. Here's an example for a person who completed 9 reading assignments, 10 writing assignments, and got a 97%, 85% and 75% on the essays:

Reading (90 out of 100 equals a 90) 90 x (worth 20% of the course) 20% = 18
Writing 100 x 20% = 20
Essay 1 90 x 20% = 18
Essay 2 85 x 20% = 17
Essay 3 75 x 20% = 15

18+20+18+17+15=88 Final Grade 88% = B+

Scale Lower Upper
Below 60

Final grades are available after the end of the semester at the Registrar's online site. I do not email final grades to individual students.

Important Dates: Point your browser to http://www.asu.edu/calendar/academic.html for semester dates.

Office Hours: Since this is an online course, I will not hold face to face office hours, but I am available by appointment. I check email once a day, Monday through Friday. I will answer questions through email usually within 48 hours except over weekends and on holidays. I am also happy to call you if you have a question. Simply email me your phone number and an appropriate time to call.

Attendance : This class meets online using myASU. The class asks you to complete the same work as other sections, but it has the added benefit of teaching you to communicate electronically with your teacher and classmates. This is an integral part of your grade. This course is not self-paced. There are set due dates. Work submitted after the due dates will not receive credit. Each missed assignment will result in an absence, and each absence will negatively affect your grade. If you miss more than 4 class assignments you will automatically fail the course. THERE ARE NO EXCUSED ABSENCES, even for emergencies or school activities. You have 4 absences to use for emergencies.

Protecting Work: While there are many benefits that come with using technology to conduct the course, there can also be drawbacks such as system outages, hardware and software failures, and inexperience with systems. Technology failures are NOT an excuse for late or missing work. I do not expect you to be an expert with technology, but I do expect you to observe some common sense practices. I also recommend that if you are new to online courses or if you are unfamiliar with the software I suggest you view the online tutorials available through asuonline. Here are some other tips:

. Never type directly into myASU. Type in Word and then cut and paste your work.

. Ctrl-S is your best friend. The more you save the less you lose. Make a habit of saving your work several times as you write.

. My degree is in English, not Computers, so there are many technical questions I am too dumb to answer. If you get stuck with a technical issue, call the computer help desk at 480-965-6500.

Late Work : Other students depend on you to post your work on time, and we often cannot proceed until all the work is complete. For that reason, the policies on late work are very strict. Late work will not receive credit unless you email me in advance of the deadline.

Plagiarism : To plagiarize is to present as your own any work that is not exclusively your own. Plagiarism of all or a portion of any assignment will be strictly penalized. Penalties can range from no credit for the assignment to failing the course. Repeated offenses can lead to your expulsion from the university.

Online Environment : You will need to pay attention to a few details in order for your work to be counted. For example, when you post your work online, you have to ensure that it shows up and we can access it or else you won't get credit. Always check your work to make sure it shows up as you intended. Also, be aware of how the things you're posting in online discussions come across--it's easy for something you meant humorously to be taken seriously in an online environment, so be careful. Above all, be kind towards and respectful of your fellow students. Any material that is viewed as obscene or profane will be removed from the board and you will not receive credit. Consider the class to be an academic audience.

The Public Nature of Writing and Confidentiality Issues : Part of becoming a good writer is learning to appreciate the ideas and criticisms of others, and in this course our purpose is to come together as a community of writers. Remember that this is a workshop, and you will be getting feedback from others. Avoid writing about things you may not be prepared to subject to public scrutiny or that you feel so strongly about that you are unable or unwilling to listen to perspectives other than your own. This class is about discussing the writing, not the subject of the writing. I have had several problems in the past with students posting obscene work. Please be sensitive to the needs of your peers, and treat our classroom with respect by refraining from posting explicit matierial.

Incomplete Grades : I do not offer incomplete grades.

Accommodations for Disabilities : ADA Statement The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. One element of this legislation requires that all qualified students with documented disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation please contact the Disability Resource Center at ASU Polytechnic located in Student Affairs Quad # 4 or call 480-727-1039 / TTY: 480-727-1009.  Eligibility and documentation policies online: http://www.asu.edu/studentaffairs/ed/drc/

Student Conduct: Students are required to adhere to the behavior standards listed in Arizona Board of Regents Policy Manual Chapter V – Campus and Student Affairs: Code of Conduct), ACD 125: Computer, Internet, and Electronic Communications, and the ASU Student Academic Integrity Policy.

Students are entitled to receive instruction free from interference by other members of the class. If a student is disruptive, an instructor may ask the student to stop the disruptive behavior and warn the student that such disruptive behavior can result in withdrawal from the course. An instructor may withdraw a student from a course when the student's behavior disrupts the educational process under USI 201-10 http://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/usi/usi201-10.html.

Student Support Services
Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/students/services/

The Writing Center at the Polytechnic Campus: The Polytechnic Writing Center offers tutoring services to all students on any sort of writing project. Writing tutors can help with any stage of the writing process, including choosing a topic, brainstorming, clarifying a thesis, organization of ideas or paragraphs, grammar, citation styles, and more. The Center is located in the Academic Center Building on the Lower Level and will be open for the Fall 2008 semester beginning Tuesday, September 2. Tutors' availability will be posted on our website at http://studentsuccess.asu.edu/polytechnic/writingschedule . Although walk-ins are accepted, it is strongly recommended that you make an appointment. Please call (480) 727-1452 to schedule an appointment. Online tutoring is also available if you cannot come in. Visit the Writing Center 's website (http://studentsuccess.asu.edu/polytechnic /writing ) for more information.

ASU Libraries - offers 24/7 access to librarians through "Ask a Librarian" online chat and help by librarians in person at the Reference Desk during most hours the libraries are open. www.asu.edu/lib/ Polytechnic campus link: http://library.poly.asu.edu/

Counseling and Consultation – provides confidential mental health and career counseling services for all ASU students. http://www.asu.edu/studentaffairs/counseling/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/students/counseling/

Learning Resource Center – provides students with academic support services such as tutoring, peer advising, computer assisted instruction, and supplemental instruction. The LRC offers both free and fee-based services. www.asu.edu/vpsa/lrc/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/learningcenter/

Writing Center – provides on-site tutors to help students increase their confidence as writers and improve writing skills free of charge. www.asu.edu/duas/wcenter/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/learningcenter/WritingServices.htm

Career Services – offers assistance to students in choosing a major, setting career goals, interviewing and job hunting strategies. http://career.asu.edu/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/students/career/

Student Financial Aid Office – offers information and applications for student funding such as grants, loans, scholarships and student employment. www.asu.edu/fa/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.asu.edu/fa/ (same as general ASU site)

Student Health and Wellness Center – provides non-emergency medical health care to all ASU students regardless of insurance status. Most visits with a physician or nurse practitioner are free of charge, but fees will be incurred for x-rays, lab results, etc., www.asu.edu/health/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/students/health/

Student Recreational Center – offers individual and group fitness opportunities, as well as information on nutrition and wellness, and massages. Use of the general facilities (weights, circuit training and cardio machines) are free, other services (yoga classes, massages) are fee-based. www.asu.edu/src/ Polytechnic campus site: http://www.poly.asu.edu/pac/

Student Legal Assistance – provides legal advice and counsel free of charge to all ASU students in areas such as landlord-tenant law, credit reports and collection issues, taxability of scholarships and grants, etc. Notary service is also available at no charge. http://www.asu.edu/mu/legal/

Help Wiki – provides a frequently asked questions resource for technology users at ASU. http://wiki.asu.edu/help/

Information Technology on the Polytechnic campus: http://www.poly.asu.edu/it/

EMPACT Crisis Hotline – offers free 24-hour support for mental health crises. Call (480) 784-1500 in the Phoenix area, (866) 205-5229 for the toll-free number outside of Phoenix , and (480) 736-4949 for the sexual assault hotline. All services are free and confidential. http://www.empact-spc.com/

Email Procedures: I cannot accept emails from non-ASU accounts. The best way for you to get around this is to use your ASU email account. This is preferable for many reasons, including that your email address will be in the global address system so that anyone at ASU can reach you easily. However, if you still want to use an outside email, simply set up your ASU email to forward to your outside account. You can also use the "Email" button on our website to email me. Here are some other general rules about email:

. Email is not simultaneous. Allow at least 24 hours for an answer to your message, or even more on weekends or holidays. Avoid overloading me with a barrage of messages.

. Email lacks cues that are available in face to face communication. Therefore, always begin each email with a greeting and close each email with a signature.

. Be very careful to phrase your email with a neutral tone so that it does not sound angry or rude. It is very easy for email to be misinterpreted.

. Get to the point quickly and make individual questions or comments clear. If you have several questions or comments, use a list.

. Always include a descriptive subject line with enough information to indicate what your email is about.

. Always use spellcheck, even when you are sending a quick note. Even though email readers are more relaxed, mistakes will still affect the validity and power of your message.

. Never use all caps. It means you are shouting.

Patricia Colleen Murphy, MFA * Arizona State University * 240M Santa Catalina Hall * 7271 E Sonoran Arroyo Mall * Mesa, AZ 85212