How does the past come to life, on the page and on the screen? From Walter Scott, to Toni Morrison, to the popular romances, films, and television series of today, this course considers a range of texts that draw their settings, characters, and plots from history. We will examine how each work addresses some of the central tensions of historical fiction: between the imagined past and the past as reconstructed through research, between description and the spirit of the past, between accuracy and relevance. Our focus will be on the craft of historical fiction and the power of techniques like description, dialogue, setting, and character to reanimate the past. For the final assessment, students will choose between a traditional argumentative paper and a historical story of their own invention.
3-5 units. Less units for students who want to have a lighter load.