Will Nash
Office
Axinn Center 250
Tel
(802) 443-5337
Email
nash@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Spring 2022: Tuesday & Thursday 10:00-11:30 AM (Zoom), and by appointment.

William Nash is Professor of American Studies and English.  He received his B.A. from Centre College of Kentucky and his M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has taught at Middlebury since 1995.  The recipient of three NEH grants and author of Charles Johnson’s Fiction and co-editor of Charles Johnson: The Novelist as Philosopher, he has also published scholarly articles and reviews in anthologies and journals such as African American Review and Callaloo.  His current research focuses on historical and contemporary representations of abolitionism and enslavement.  He teaches courses on Black literature, enslavement and abolitionism, and contemporary Black culture.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Black Freedom Struggles
This course explores racial tensions of the present moment and situates them in the historical context of the ongoing struggles for Black freedom. Topics discussed may include Black reparations, Abolitionism, mass incarceration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. The primary mode of interaction will be synchronous online discussions. Students will do individual and group presentations, engage in debates, and write essays. Readings may include Coates’ The Case for Reparations, Kendi’s We're Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholder's Republic, Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, ; and Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and screenings may include “13th” and “Eyes on the Prize.”. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, NOR

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Course Description

African American Literature
This course surveys developments in African American fiction, drama, poetry, and essays during the 20th century. Reading texts in their social, historical, and cultural contexts—and often in conjunction with other African American art forms like music and visual art—we will explore the evolution and deployment of various visions of black being and black artistry, from the Harlem Renaissance through social realism and the Black Arts Movement, to the contemporary post-soul aesthetic. Authors may include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, and Octavia Butler. This course may also be counted as a general elective or REC elective for the ENAM major. 3 hrs lect./disc. (Diversity)/

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Re-Presenting Slavery
In this course we will examine 20th century American portrayals of chattel slavery through creative works and situate them in their historical contexts. Working primarily with fiction (Oxherding Tale, Kindred, The Underground Railroad), film (Mandingo, Django Unchained, Twelve Years a Slave), television (Roots, Africans in America, Underground), and visual art (works by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Kara Walker), we will evaluate how those various representations of the “Peculiar Institution” have changed, and/or have been changed, by the cultural moments in which they appeared. This course may also be counted as a general elective or REC elective for the ENAM major. 3 hrs lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, ART, HIS, NOR

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Course Description

The Guitar in American Culture
Although it has European and African antecedents, modern acoustic and electric guitars are American inventions. From the genteel parlor guitars of the 19th century elite to the electric weaponry of today’s rock stars, the guitar is an essential artifact of American material culture. Drawing on histories, cultural critiques, interviews, and sound and video recordings, we will study both the evolution of the instrument and the builders and players who have helped define its role. Examining artifacts and talking with working guitar builders will illuminate the craft of guitar making. The culmination of the course will be a student-curated exhibition.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, NOR

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Course Description

Livin' for the City
In this course we will engage the idea of the "ghetto" as constructed through literature, film, music, and television. Our exploration will relate this concept to geographic spaces and to a socially-constructed set of ideas about urban African American spaces and communities. We will combine critical textual analysis with fundamental concepts from human geography and social history to explore shifting conceptions of the “ghetto”, consider its impact on urban African American space, and examine how the responses of urban black American artists affect, resist, and change its imaginative geography. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

AMR, CMP, NOR, SOC

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Course Description

Toni Morrison and American Culture
In this course we will explore how Toni Morrison has helped shape and been shaped by ongoing American conversations about race and identity. Beginning with The Origin of Others, her recent collection of essays, and ranging through her fiction from The Bluest Eye to Beloved to Home, we will assess her work in the contexts of the cultural moments in which the novels appeared, using commentary from Black cultural critics like Ta-Nehisi Coates, bell hooks, Shaun King, and James Baldwin to inform our readings. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, HIS, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Reading, Slavery, and Abolition
In this course we will study both black and white writers' psychological responses to, and their verbal onslaughts on, the "peculiar institution" of chattel slavery. We will work chronologically and across genres to understand how and by whom the written word was deployed in pursuit of physical and mental freedom and racial and socioeconomic justice. As the course progresses, we will deepen our study of historical context drawing on the substantial resources of Middlebury's special collections, students will have the opportunity to engage in archival work if they wish. Authors will include Emerson, Douglass, Jacobs, Thoreau, Stowe, Walker, and Garrison. This course may also be counted as a general elective or REC elective for the ENAM major 3 hrs. sem. (Diversity)/ This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Independent Study
Select project advisor prior to registration.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, 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

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Course Description

Senior Work
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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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

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

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Course Description

Introduction to Black Studies
This course considers the issues, epistemologies, and political investments central to Black Studies as a field. We will explore chronologically, thematically, and with an interdisciplinary lens the social forces and ideas that have shaped the individual and collective experiences of African-descended peoples throughout the African Diaspora. This course is a broad survey of the history of chattel slavery, colonial encounters, community life, and social institutions of black Americans. We will address issues of gender and class; the role of social movements in struggles for liberation; and various genres of black expressive cultures. Students will develop critical tools, frameworks, and vocabulary for further study in the field. Course materials may include Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies, C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins, and Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AAL, AMR, HIS, SOC

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Course Description

Senior Work
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis Work
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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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

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, 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

Fall 2018, 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

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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

View in Course Catalog