The course begins in LA, USC’s home city. We look at Southern California’s founding myths, and ask why the Golden Land boasts such a dark literary heritage.
‘Ceremony’ by Leslie Marmon Silko
Leslie Marmon Silko chronicles Native American life in the desert Southwest. Her punchy and poetic work looks back to a traumatic past, and forward to the future.
‘Close Range’ by Annie Proulx
Annie Proulx’s stories explore contemporary lives in the Great West, a mythic land where the tough conditions pit rugged individuals against the power of capital and corporations.
‘Deliverance’ by James Dickey
Appalachian culture is under the spotlight in Donald Trump’s America. We beat a trail through backwoods fiction in search of empathy and understanding.
‘My Ántonia’ by Willa Cather
Willa Cather’s nostalgic vision of life on the Plains traces the multiethnic roots of heartland America, a place that celebrates comity through a shared experience of resilience and survival.
‘Olive Kitteridge’ by Elizabeth Strout
Yankee New England is ‘white and uptight’ - or so says Maine novelist Elizabeth Strout. Is she right? We dig into classic and contemporary New England fiction to find out.
‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ by Truman Capote
The South wrestles with the weight of its history. Truman Capote’s brilliant first novel captures the contradictions of this fascinating and troubling region.
‘Song of Solomon’ by Toni Morrison
'Song of Solomon' traces the African American trajectory backwards, from 20th c. Michigan to 19th c. Virginia. It's a novel with profound relevance in this racially divided nation.
‘Typical American’ by Gish Jen
New York fiction is a world to itself, and could form the basis for a whole new Bookpackers’ course. We focus on New York as a place of ambition, and as the epicenter of the American ‘melting pot’.
'Woman Hollering Creek’ by Sandra Cisneros
Mexican America fuses European and Native traditions, and pre-dates all other immigrant pathways. Cisneros’ stories celebrate the traditional and folkloric, whilst acknowledging an ongoing struggle for a slice of the American Dream.