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HON 246 A (ES)
Holy Ground:
Space and Place in Art, Literature, Politics, and Religion
Fall 2017
TTh 12:30-1:50
Humanities Center 303

Common Goals for Explorations in Scholarship Seminars

Explorations Seminars ask four questions:
  • How does one effectively participate in the college community?
  • How does one learn to ask the “right” kinds of questions?
  • How does one use research to explore problems and develop solutions?
  • How does one work with others to develop better, more useful understandings?
As an Explorations in Scholarship seminar, this course assumes that learning and understanding begin with curiosity. Our understanding grows as we collaborate with others, connect ideas, do research, and give and receive feedback. In this class, we present our ideas in writing, in oral presentations, in class discussions. All of these modes provide us opportunities to practice and hone our learning strategies, strategies that can serve us in this class and in all college coursework and endeavors. In the end, we arrive in a new place, seeing the world in a new way. Identifying new ways of being, doing, and knowing is the essence of learning in college.

As a way of addressing the goals outlined above, this course focuses on how literature intersects with the world we live in, particularly by examining issues of gender, race, and social class. The activities we engage in will enable you to develop not only the habits of mind required for a scholarly approach to literature but also to see clearly the place of literary study in a college education, the connections between literary study and other academic disciplines, and the relationships between theory and practice and between art and life. By the end of the term, you will have a clear sense of how to read and write about literary texts, of what it means to be a member of an academic community, and of how that community relates to and serves the wider community.

Course-Specific Learning Outcomes

Upon satisfactory completion of the course, students will have gained experience in
  • being effective classroom discussants and participants
  • identifying strengths and weakness of differing approaches to topics being investigated, and positioning themselves in an ongoing inquiry
  • making clear and effective presentations of research and positions held
  • using basic information technology effectively for research and peer teaching
  • articulating the different ways in which theorists approach space and place
  • applying theories of space and place to places in texts and to actual places


Cresswell, Place: a short introduction
Tuan, Space and Place
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Chopin, The Awakening
Selected poems


Class Participation: As a member of this scholarly community, you are responsible for class discussion. My role in the class is not to give you the final word on the texts we consider but to coordinate your discussion of them. One of the premises of this course is that there are multiple approaches to texts. Class discussion allows us to unravel the complexity of the texts we read because during discussion we must account for our own opinions as we consider those of our fellow readers. Discussion and debate are not opportunities to win an argument as much as chances to enrich the entire group's understanding of the text being examined and the issues it raises. Though not necessarily formal, academic discussion has certain qualities that set it apart from casual conversation, and I will be evaluating you according to the following criteria in an effort to help you develop your discussion skills:
  • Points made should be substantive, relevant to the discussion, and linked to the comments of others.
  • Comments should show evidence of analysis of the issue at hand.
  • Comments should add to the group's understanding of the situation.
  • Participants should distinguish among different kinds of evidence, particularly between facts and opinions or beliefs.
  • Participants should attempt to bring other readings, both from the text and from other sources, to bear on the issues under consideration.
Come to class prepared to make significant comments on the reading assignments and to ask useful questions. Take notes as you read, and write out substantial responses to the readings. I may call on you at any time for your response to a reading assignment. Please follow this link to a Web page that outlines the fundamental virtues necessary to create and maintain a vital scholarly community.

Classroom Behavior: Because our classroom space is devoted to textual analysis, it must therefore be free of distractions. To that end, I expect you to observe the following rules:

  • Arrive on time (this means a minute or two early) and use the bathroom before you arrive.
  • Do not begin packing for your trip to your next class before I end our class. I will end our class on time.
  • Do not bring food into the classroom, and bring drinks only in containers that will not spill.
  • Do not bring personal music devices such as mp3 players to class.
  • If you bring a portable computer to class, use it only for purposes connected to class activities.
  • Silence all cell phones before you come to class, and put them away.
  • Pay attention to the person who is speaking: do not engage in private conversations.

Writing Assignments: In addition to your journal and your informal in-class writing assignments, you will write three formal papers. These papers are the counterpart to class participation: whereas in class you will develop and test your ideas by voicing them in the group, in your papers you will develop and test your ideas through extended thought and multiple drafts. As in class discussion, you must be aware of your audience, but unlike class discussion you cannot change, modify, clarify, or correct your ideas once you turn the paper in. You will discover things about yourself and about literature as you write, but once you submit the paper it must stand on its own. Start early on these papers, and go through several drafts, not just correcting any errors you find but developing your examples and clarifying your explanations. If it helps, think of class discussion as rehearsal and the papers as performance. Audiences expect certain things out of a performance. As your audience, I hope to find your performance thoughtful, honest, careful, spirited, well-developed. At the very least, I expect the following -- papers are to be submitted through Moodle by the beginning of class on the due date; they must be submitted as a Microsoft Word document having the suffix .doc or .docx; your work must follow the proper manuscript form (MLA style) found in your college writing handbook purchased for your composition class. I may choose not to accept written work that does not conform to standards; if so, I will require you to rewrite the assignment. I will not accept late work without having given prior consent. For a clear idea of my grading scale for papers, please follow this link. I will return your papers to you in electronic form with my comments imbedded electronically. I will also send you a grading sheet that gives you a breakdown of the scores you earned in various aspects of your paper. For a copy of this grading sheet, please follow this link.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the most serious offence against academic honesty. As such, it has the most severe penalties. Put quite simply, plagiarism is the use of someone else's words or ideas without giving him or her credit. Anytime you quote directly or indirectly from a source, or if you paraphrase or summarize material from a source, you must document that act of borrowing. The papers you write for this or any class at Birmingham-Southern are documents by which your professors will measure your ability to collect and analyze data, understand concepts, and articulate ideas. Presenting another person's work as your own is dishonest and fraudulent. Any act of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment without possibility of revision. Intentional acts of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course. Please use the following link for an extended definition of plagiarism.

Class Attendance: Because the classroom experience is central to this course, you must be present in both body and spirit during class time. Recognizing that you have a complex life, I allow you two sick days and two personal days for the term. Any absences beyond those four will cost you a letter grade reduction per day absent on your final course grade. You will not be allowed to make up missed work unless you get permission from me ahead of time or unless I have been contacted by Health Services or your academic advisor about your extended illness.

Academic Acommodation: If you have a documented disability and need academic accommodations in this course, please speak with me privately as soon as possible so I can be prepared to meet your needs. Students with disabilities seeking accommodations must be registered with the Office of Accessibility, which will provide an academic accommodation letter to registered students who are responsible for sharing the letter and discussing accommodation needs with me. If you have not already registered with the Office of Accessibility, please contact that office as soon as possible at or If you prefer to call the office, the number is (205) 226-7909.

Contacting Your Professor: You may contact me by leaving me an e-mail message, a voice-mail message at my office extension, or a written note on my office door bulletin board or in my mailbox in the Humanities Office. An e-mail message will be the most effective method. Please understand, however, that your leaving a message does not constitute your having my permission for your request.

Course Grade

The final grade will be the average of the class participation grade (10%), presentations grade (10%), the short paper grades (20% each), the annotated bibliography grade (15%), and the documented research paper grade (25%). The first short paper focuses on what makes your neighborhood or hometown a particular place. The second short paper applies space and place theory to one of the two novels we will read together. The annotated bibliography provides notes on how you will use your research materials in your long paper, which applies space and place theory to a text or texts of your choice. The topic and scope of this final paper must be approved by me before you begin the research process.

Your papers should reflect extensive thought and multiple drafting, and you should draw on the writing skills you are learning in your writing class. In addition to the instruction in writing you get in both classes, you should make use of the tutorial support available in the Writing Center. Information about the Writing Center appears on its Web page, which you may reach by following this link. Remember that your assignments are both a learning tool for you and an evaluation tool for me. The more effort you put into them, the more you will learn and the better you will be evaluated. Please see the statement of my philosophy of grading that I have posted on this Web site.

Course Schedule

Reading assignments are listed below on the days we will be discussing them in class. Take notes on the readings and your reactions to them, and come to class prepared to discuss the texts and the issues they raise. Note that I will be asking you to use the "Responses to Readings" Forum on our class Moodle site to respond publically to several of the readings. Writing assignments and examinations are listed below in boldfaced type.

Note: Five Explorations Lecture and Arts Events are listed below in red. Most are scheduled during the Common Hour in Norton Theater. You must attend at least three of these events, take notes on each presentation and your reaction to it, and be prepared to discuss them in subsequent class meetings as they relate to our readings in space and place theory. You will be required to write an essay response to these events on your final examination.

08/24 Introduction to the Course

08/29 Panel Discussion: "Tearing Old Dixie Down," Norton Theatre, 11:00 a.m.
08/29 Chopin, “The Story of an Hour” and Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-Paper"
08/31 Robert Gerhardt, Guest Artist Lecture Series: "Muslim Americans / American Muslims," Norton Theatre, 11:00 a.m.
08/31 Tuan, Space and Place, chs. 1-5

09/05 Bettina Byrd-Giles, Guest Speaker, C3 Speaker Series: "The Importance of Cultural Learning and How it Adds to the Community," Norton Theatre, 11:00 a.m.
09/05 Tuan, Space and Place, chs. 6-8
09/07 Tuan, Space and Place, chs. 9-12 Paper on Neighborhood or Hometown Due

09/12 Cresswell, Place, chs. 1-3
09/14 Cresswell, Place, ch. 4

09/19 Cresswell, Place, ch. 5
09/21 Conversation about Research Projects

09/26 Group Presentation on The Terminal Choice of Research Project Due
09/28 Group Presentation on McFarland USA

10/03 Group Presentation on The Help
10/05 Fall Break

10/10 Space and Place in The Awakening
10/12 Space and Place in The Awakening Research Paper Proposal Due
10/13 Randy Law, Professor of History, Provost's Forum: "The Reality and Perception of American Terrorism," Norton Theatre, 2:00 p.m.

10/17 Space and Place in Pride and Prejudice
10/19 Space and Place in Pride and Prejudice

10/24 Karen Bender, Guest Speaker, BACHE Visiting Writer Series: Munger Hall Auditorium, 11:00 a.m.
10/24 Goldsmith, “The Deserted Village,” and Crabbe, “The Village”
10/26 A Virtual Visit to the Gardens at Stowe Paper Applying Theory Due

10/31 Denham, “Cooper’s Hill,” and Pope, “Windsor Forest”
11/02 Tatter’s Paper on the Siting of the Grenville Monument

11/07 Progress Reports on Research Papers
11/09 Progress Reports on Research Papers Annotated Bibliography Due

11/14 Individual Conferences on Research Papers
11/16 Individual Conferences on Research Papers

11/21 Progress Reports on Research Papers
11/23 Thanksgiving Break

11/28 Review for Final Exam Research Paper Due

12/05 (Tuesday 1:00-4:00 p.m.) Final Examination

John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College,