Students in Reading the Frontier will explore the actual and imaginary North American frontier. How has the frontier contributed to the formation, disintegration, and continuance of communal and individual identities - identities regional, tribal, generational, national, spiritual, etc.? We will entertain numerous short readings in the Norton Anthology of American Literature, but will also tackle several longer works from among the following: The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Bernard DeVoto ed.), Edgar Huntley (Charles Brockden Brown), The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper), A Tour on the Prairies (Washington Irving), My Antonia (Willa Cather), Moby-Dick (Herman Melville), Absalom, Absalom! (William Faulkner), and Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy). We will augment our reading with the study of visual culture, perhaps examining the film Unforgiven or looking into landscape painting from the Western Luminist tradition. Early in the term we will take a research trip to the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but as important will be ongoing student access to Special Collections in our own Jefferson Hall, where we will examine documents from the American frontier. For the research paper students may closely study handwritten battle-field journals brought back by graduates after the American Indian Wars, or work groups to put together a display of rare photographs. Lastly, scholars specializing in the study of frontier will visit with us in the classroom.