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Core Courses

EN102 - Literature



EN102: Literature

“Intersecting Identities”

Spring 2014


Course Description

The texts in this course are linked by an attentiveness to the forging of personal and national identities and to the ways in which those identities may intersect with each other as well as with history, science, myth, memory, and imagination. The figures we encounter are faced with the challenge of creating and sustaining a sense of self, of communicating that sense to the world, and of finding a place for themselves within larger social or national contexts. The works we consider also address moments when personal and communal narratives work at cross-purposes as individuals attempt to form or preserve their own identities and life stories in a world that expects them to conform to pre-established narrative and social conventions.

What better time to consider the difficulties of constructing personal histories and projecting future identities than now, when you are on the cusp of a kind of metamorphosis, poised to enter a new world with particular expectations and demands? How, in a culture that prizes uniformity, can one at once conform and retain a core identity?

EN102 has been designed to equip you with knowledge and skills that will serve you throughout your undergraduate and military careers—and in life more broadly. The entire course—texts, assignments and activities, classroom discussion—is animated by the belief that the capacities of intellectual courage, deep attention, rich imagination, and powerful communication are essential to your success.

Spanning genres and periods, the course encourages inventive, interdisciplinary approaches to the ideas and issues found in literary texts. It invites you to bring your own knowledge and interests to bear. Moreover, the course will leave you with perspectives you can continue to use as you pursue professional development in various contexts throughout your West Point experience and beyond.


Course Goals, Objectives, Assessment Measures

EN102 contributes to elements of several USMA Academic Program Goals, which are represented in the quoted language below. The course challenges plebes:

1. To act and think “creatively” through textual interpretation, dramatic performance, and writing.

2. To “recognize ethical issues” as they are represented in literature by examining complex, ambiguous situations in which characters are confronted with difficult choices.

3. To listen attentively, think precisely and deeply, “read critically,” and speak and write effectively by engaging in dialogue with peers, faculty, and guest lecturers; memorizing and performing a speech from Shakespeare; and writing about literature.

4. To cultivate “the capability and desire to pursue progressive and continued intellectual development” by sharpening tools of textual analysis, learning to become judicious interpreters of evidence, and taking away from the course a volume of Shakespeare to which they can return in future years.

5. To broaden and deepen a knowledge of “cultures,” “social systems,” “human behavior,” and the “human condition” as these spheres are represented in literature.


Special Events

There are several special events woven into EN102—a musical presentation by the Jazz Knights, a film night, a library exhibit, an acting workshop the actor-educators from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and guest lectures—and we will partake of as many of these opportunities as the schedule allows.


Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Dramatic Workshop 

Actors from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will lead Cadets in expressing themselves dramatically during a workshop that will be conducted 27-28 March.  Cadets will experience the complexities and nuances of character and performance as they embrace roles selected by them from the works of Sophocles and Shakespeare.


Course Leadership


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Department of English and Philosophy, United States Military Academy, Room 228, West Point, New York 10996