Deborah Evans

Assistant Professor of American Studies

 work(802) 443-2099
 Spring Term: Tuesday 3:00-5:00 or by appointment
 Axinn Center at Starr Library 247

Deborah Evans earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M. A. and Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has taught at Middlebury since 1996.  Her regular course offerings include 19th century American literature, women's writing, and studies in American regionalism--particularly of the American South and West.  Her current research interests revolve around intersections of gender and race in American literature and culture, with a focus on the captivity narrative.  She served two terms as Faculty Curator of the Abernethy collection of American literature and for the past six years has worked in the Student Life division as co-head of Wonnacott Commons.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

AMST 0209 / ENAM 0209 - Am. Lit. & Cult: origins-1830      

American Literature and Culture: Origins-1830
A study of literary and other cultural forms in early America, including gravestones, architecture, furniture and visual art. We will consider how writing and these other forms gave life to ideas about religion, diversity, civic obligation and individual rights that dominated not only colonial life but that continue to influence notions of "Americanness" into the present day. Required for all majors and minors.3 hrs. lect./disc. AMR LIT NOR

Fall 2018, Fall 2019

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AMST 0231 - Tourism in American Culture      

See the U.S.A.: The History of Tourism in American Culture
In this course, we will explore the history and evolution of American tourism, beginning in the 1820s, when middle-class tourists first journeyed up the Hudson River valley, and ending with our contemporary and continuing obsession with iconic destinations such as Graceland, Gettysburg, and the Grand Canyon. We will explore how the growth of national transportation systems, the development of advertising, and the rise of a middle class with money and time to spend on leisure shaped the evolution of tourism. Along the way, we will study various types of tourism (such as historical, cultural, ethnic, eco-, and 'disaster' tourism) and look at the creative processes by which places are transformed into 'destinations'. Our texts will come from visual art, travel literature, material culture, and film and television. We will consider their cultural meaning and reflect on our own motivations and responses as tourists, and by so doing contemplate why tourism was-and still is-such an important part of American life. 3 hrs. lect. AMR CW HIS NOR

Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

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AMST 0240 / ENAM 0240 - Captivity Narratives      

Captivity Narratives
Captivity narratives—first-person accounts of people's experiences of being forcibly taken and held against their will by an "other"—were immensely popular and important in early America; the captivity motif has been perpetuated and transformed throughout later American literature and film. In this course we will explore what these types of tales reveal about how Americans have handled the issues of race and racism, religion, gender, violence and sexuality that experiences of captivity entail. Beginning with classic Puritan narratives (Mary Rowlandson) and moving forward through the 19th and 20th centuries, we will consider the ways that novels (The Last of the Mohicans), autobiographies (Patty Hearst, Iraqi captivity of Pvt. Jessica Lynch) and films (The Searchers, Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves) do cultural work in shaping and challenging images of American national identity. 3 hrs. lect. (Diversity) AMR ART LIT NOR

Fall 2016, Spring 2018

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AMST 0251 - Monuments and Memorials      

Constructing Memory: American Monuments and Memorials
“Democracy has no monuments,” John Quincy Adams once famously argued. “It strikes no medals; it bears the head of no man upon its coin; its very essence is iconoclastic.” Yet nearly 250 years after America’s founding, monuments and memorials surround us. In this course we will explore the memorializing impulse; the complexity and depth of emotion evoked by memorial acts; and the oftentimes heated controversies about modes, placement, and subject of representation. We will consider how and why America chooses to memorialize certain people and events, and what is gained—and sometimes erased—in the process. By choosing among a broad range of traditional and non-traditional modes of representation, we will consider how public memorials both reflect and shape Americans’ shared cultural values. The course will include site visits to local monuments and projects in which we propose designs or redesigns of memorials for a 21st century audience. AMR ART CW NOR

Spring 2016, Spring 2018

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AMST 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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AMST 0701 - Senior Work I      

Senior Work
(Approval required)

Fall 2019

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AMST 0710 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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AMST 1012 - American West on Film      

Hollywood’s West: The American West on Film
From its beginnings the Hollywood western has presented an imaginative geography, a powerful popular fantasy expressing deep truths, and perhaps still deeper desires about American identity. Initially the western reasserted 19th century America’s optimistic vision of manifest destiny; ultimately, many westerns challenged that optimism, often explicitly presenting racial, sexual, and political tensions. Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed. Working with a broad range of films, including Stagecoach, High Noon, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Blazing Saddles, Unforgiven, Lone Star, Smoke Signals, Cowboys & Aliens—we will explore the ways in which westerns have both shaped and reflected the dominant social and political desires and anxieties of their respective eras. . AMR ART NOR WTR

Winter 2016, Winter 2019

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CRWR 0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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CRWR 0701 - Senior Thesis:Creative Writing      

Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking one-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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ENAM 0206 / AMST 0206 - 19th Century American Lit.      

Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Pre-1900 AL)
This course will examine major developments in the literary world of 19th century America. Specific topics to be addressed might include the transition from Romanticism to Regionalism and Realism, the origins and evolution of the novel in the United States, and the tensions arising from the emergence of a commercial marketplace for literature. Attention will also be paid to the rise of women as literary professionals in America and the persistent problematizing of race and slavery. Among others, authors may include J. F. Cooper, Emerson, Melville, Douglass, Chopin, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, Alcott, Wharton, and James. . 3 hrs. lect./disc. AMR LIT NOR

Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019

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ENAM 0342 / AMST 0342 - Literature of American South      

Literature of the American South (AL)
In William Faulkner's Absolom, Absolom! Canadian Shreve McCannon commands his roommate, Mississippian Quentin Compson, "Tell about the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all?" Our course will take on writers who want to "tell about the South" in the post-Civil War era and beyond, as they seek to help re-define and revitalize their region. We will focus our regional exploration on the "Southern Renascence," when writers and theorists like the Agrarians re-examined Southern history and reconsidered their role in relation to their regional community. Authors including William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams developed a new awareness of the restrictions of racial and gender roles, an interest in literary experimentation, and an increasingly realistic presentation of social conditions in the south. We will consider the legacy of these writers in later 20th century texts by authors such as Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Alice Walker, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Gaines, Randall Kenan and even relative newcomers such as Jackson Tippett McCrea. (Not open to students who have taken FYSE 1336) 3 hrs. lect./disc. AMR LIT NOR

Fall 2017

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ENAM 0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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ENAM 0700 - Senior Thesis:Critical Writing      

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.

Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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FYSE 1556 - Liberal Arts and the Good Life      

The Liberal Arts and Living "the Good Life"
You are here—now what? In this seminar we will reflect on this pivotal moment in your intellectual journey. We will consider key questions that help us understand why a liberal arts education offers more than ‘useless knowledge’ and is instead an investment in the good of the soul and the community: What does it mean—and has it meant--to live ‘the good life’? We will read critical writings about American liberal arts education; selected philosophical and sacred texts as they pertain to living ‘the good life’; and creative works such as Orwell’s /1984/ and Martel’s /Life of Pi/. We’ll slow down and deepen your learning process--and get another step closer to identifying a sense of meaning and purpose for your four years at Middlebury. 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2019

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INTD 0210 / EDST 0210 - Sophomore Seminar/Liberal Arts      

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
This course is designed for sophomores who are interested in exploring the meaning and the purpose of a liberal arts education. To frame this investigation, we will use the question "What is the good life and how shall I live it?" Through an interdisciplinary and multicultural array of readings and films we will engage our course question through intellectual discussion, written reflection, and personal practice. There will be significant opportunities for public speaking and oral presentation, as well as regular writing assignments, including a formal poster presentation. Readings will include reflections on a liberal arts education in the U.S. (Emerson, Brann, Nussbaum, Oakeshott, Ladsen-Billings, bell hooks); on "the good life" (excerpts from Aristotle, sacred texts of different traditions); on social science analyses of contemporary life; texts on the neuroscience of happiness; as well as literary and cinematic representations of lives well-lived. CMP

Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

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Department of English & American Literatures

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753