HNR 340: Southern, Eastern, Western & Noir: Regional and National Identity Through Genre (Maymester)

HNR 340 - HNR 340: Southern, Eastern, Western & Noir: Regional and National Identity Through Genre (Maymester)

MySlice Info:

Term: Sum 2016
Class #: 74065
Section: M500
Credits: 3

W. G. Osborne III

Counts toward:
HNR Hum, Interdisciplinary, Collaboration

Course Time(s):
MTWThF 1:00 - 5:00 pm


Course Description:

How does genre reflect and reinforce who we think we are?  The hero and town of the western frontier film; the religious and gender depictions in blues and folk music traditions; the alienation of urban centers in film noir; the other of the New England witch hunt drama; the xenophobia of science fiction—we will investigate the roots of 21st Century American culture in the frontiers, towns, cities, and suburbs of our cultural ancestors.  Students will look and listen to a variety of modern and contemporary cultural artifacts, commenting on them critically, and will collaboratively produce informed artifacts of their own. As we explore the relationship between genre conventions and regional differences, the class will collaboratively engage with these tropes of genre and with our own local regional identities; we will revise, morph, and test the malleability of both genre (those classifications by which we consume culture) and the identity of place (who are we in CNY?). In more detail: We will visit with local places and people to explore the many histories of diverse central New York (from the first nations peoples to waves of immigration that continue today; from the various power structures that have carved lakeside resorts, disused canals, and rusted factories to the transient student populations, as well as those without access to this privilege of power or education). We will learn of the stereotyped and actual heroes and villains and tendencies, and utilize these discoveries and personae to actively break down, play with, and reconstruct genre conventions, exploring both the power and utility of these conventions, and to outright parody them or simply hold them in contempt. What happens when the familiar genre characters of the femme fatale, the "magical negro," the erudite city dweller, the cowboy, the "savage," the mobster or southern dandy carry the various conventions of their roles into the town of Syracuse and face off with its various histories and peoples? We will take field trips; watch, read, and listen to various genre media; we will revise our expectations and our understandings of place and people; and we will do all of this while constructing our own genre media (film, song, story, and comic tale) as we subvert the conventions of our national culture while recognizing the character and characters of our own local region.


Open to Honors and other qualified students. If you would like to request permission to take this course, please contact Hanna Richardson at You must have a cumulative gpa of 3.4 or higher.