Deborah Evans
Office
Axinn Center 247
Tel
(802) 443-3350
Email
devans@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: Thursday 11:00 AM-1:00 PM and by appointment
Additional Programs
American Studies

Deborah Evans, an associate professor in American Studies and English and American Literatures, earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M. A. and Ph. D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has taught at Middlebury since 1996.  

Her regular course offerings include early American literature, 19th century American literature, and studies in American regionalism—particularly of the American South and West. She teaches courses on the captivity narrative, western film, the history of tourism and leisure in American culture, and on controversies surrounding American monuments and memorials.   Her current research interests revolve around confederate monuments and remembrance in the South.   

Of late she has been particularly interested in exploring new pedagogies: she has been using a game format called Reacting to the Past in her American literature and culture courses, where students learn by taking on roles, informed by classic texts, in elaborate games set in the past.  In addition, she now serves as the faculty lead on the Mellon Grant supporting Middlebury’s development of a Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts; this class was designed to help students develop a greater sense of meaning and purpose that can inform the decisions facing them as sophomores.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Childhood in America
In this course we will explore “childhood” as an evolving social and cultural construct. Beginning by acknowledging great diversity in the lived experience of childhood (shaped by race, gender, geography, religion, ability/disability), we will examine representations of childhood and experiences of children from the early nineteenth century to the present. Together we will explore classic works of literature such as Alcott’s Little Women, Twain’s Huck Finn, and Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, in conversation with historical documents and visual and material artifacts (illustrations, painting, toys, and films). Throughout, we will consider how understanding conceptions of childhood illuminate American social and cultural history more broadly. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

AMR, HIS, LIT

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AMR, LIT

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS, NOR

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2023

Requirements

AMR, ART, CW

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Course Description

Portraits of the Lady: The New Woman in American Literature & Culture
At the end of the 19th century, women fought against restrictions limiting their sphere of influence. As they sought to exercise more control over their lives personally, socially, and economically, this “New Woman,” and the way she was changing the face of society, became a popular subject in literature and art. In this course we will consider portraits of women by well-known American authors (such as James, Chopin, Wharton, Sui Sin Far, Cather, Larsen, Hurston) alongside those by prominent painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers. We will consider how representations of women through the early twentieth century embodied the values of the nation and codified both the fears and aspirations of its citizens. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, ART, LIT

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Course Description

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Senior Work
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

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Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2021, Winter 2022, Winter 2023

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Course Description

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required. (Formerly ENAM 0500)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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. (Formerly ENAM 0700)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

American Revolutions: Reacting to the Past
In this course we will be examining four moments of intellectual and cultural conflict in the United States, including: 1)The Revolution in NYC, 1775-76, 2)The Fate of John Brown, 1859, 3)Greenwich Village, 1913 (Suffrage, Labor and the New Woman) and, 4)Chicago, 1968. We will dive deep into these moments of revolution via Reacting to the Past games, in which you’ll present the perspectives of historical characters—sometimes with values quite different than your own--in lively debate. These games do not have a fixed script: you’ll find yourself researching classic documents, collaborating, making public speeches, plotting—and in the end, perhaps even rewriting history.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
The current pandemic, and all the questions it brings to the fore about what we value in a college experience, make this an ideal moment to consider the meaning and purpose of your liberal arts education. At the heart of this exploration will be a question posed by physicist Arthur Zajonc: “How do we find our own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge?” We will examine how, at this pivotal moment of decision making, you can understand your college career as an act of “cultivating humanity” and how you can meaningfully challenge yourself to take ownership of your intellectual and personal development. Through interdisciplinary and multicultural exploration, drawing from education studies and philosophical, religious, and literary texts, we will engage our course questions by way of student-led discussion, written reflection, and personal, experiential learning practices. In this way we will examine how a liberal arts education might foster the cultivation of an ‘undivided’ life, “the good life”, a life well-lived. (The course is open to sophomores and second semester first-year students. Juniors by permission only.)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP

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Course Description

Liberal Learning in a Time of Challenge
In this course, we will explore how an education in the liberal arts and sciences may help one face -our complicated times with added resilience, compassion and curiosity. Our guiding question: how can your education help you live fully in this moment and cultivate a life of the mind—and spirit—that helps you address the challenges in the world around us? We’ll explore this question by way of discussion, written reflection and mindfulness practices and consider texts such as: Frankl, The Search for Meaning; Coates, Between the World and Me, Mandel, Station Eleven, Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air, and Martel, The Life of Pi. (This course is not open to students who have taken INTD 0210)

Terms Taught

Winter 2022, Winter 2023

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT, WTR

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