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Faulkner and O’Connor

Eng 418

Faulkner and O’Connor

  • Course ID:Eng 418
  • Semesters:1
  • Department:
  • Course Rank:Honors
  • Teachers:Patrick Miggins

Description and Objectives

The Faulkner and O’Connor course will introduce students to a classic collection of short stories and novels from two of the most important Southern writers: William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.  These two authors offer a representative explication of the Southern Literary Renaissance, a movement that came from a culture that proved to be very fertile ground for imaginative works of the highest order, as there was a shared vision among these writers of the sacredness of nature, the sinfulness of humanity, and the living presence of the past.  Faulkner and O’Connor each uniquely achieved a perfection of art and form that few other writers have achieved.

Emphasis will be placed on understanding Faulkner’s style, as his language has more of a lengthy ear to it, reflecting a rhythm from the oral tradition.  Students will be introduced to Faulkner’s thrilling hunting stories, set in his mythical kingdom, Yoknapatawpha County, his “own little postage stamp of native soil”, and a reflection of his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi.  Faulkner’s characterization of his mythical kingdom reflects the saga of the human heart in conflict with itself, and so it therefore is representative of not only the South, but of the broader, modern world.

We will also turn our focus on the works of Flannery O’Connor, one of the great masters of the short story, whose works enlarge the moral boundaries of that medium while simultaneously exploring the farthest reaches of comedy.  O’Connor’s use of the grotesque, which she defines as “the good under construction,” highlights the plight of modern humanity while illustrating moments of crisis where grace can intervene.

Highlighting our approach to these works will be the identification and appreciation of what Faulkner, in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, termed “the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed- love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.”  as well, we will better understand O’Connor’s creative intuition and genius by studying her masterful prose found in Mystery and Manners.


  • The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
  • As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  • Collected Works, by Flannery O’Connor
  • Mystery and Manners, by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Bear, by William Faulkner

Course Requirements

Students can expect to be quizzed at least once weekly on the assigned reading material.  Quarterly, students can expect several in-class writing assignments as well as a couple of formal, typed compositions.  There will be either a cumulative midterm examination (fall), or well as a final exam (spring) for the course material.  All homework is due at the beginning of class.  Late work will be penalized one letter grade down for each day that the assignment is late.

Successful Students

Students are encouraged to read and take active reading or marginal notes in his text so that pertinent passages or puzzling lines can be marked for discussion in class.

Students are expected to strive to improve in their individual “habit of art” as students, the customary reading and writing that reflects mature, academic thoughtfulness.  As well, students should strive to emulate Flannery O’Connor’s “habit of being”, an excellence of action and an interior disposition that increasingly reflects the truth and beauty of the object or specified subject matter.