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Today@Sam Article

Classes To Head West For Fifth Summer

Feb. 25, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Assistant professors Scott Kaukonen (English) and Jeff Crane (history) will once again offer students the opportunity to travel in and through the American West this May during the mini-mester session.

This year’s trip, from May 17-30, will center upon the Colorado Rockies and Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming.

Crane will be offering History 470, a course in the history of the American West, while Kaukonen will teach English 481, an advanced composition course with a focus on writing about space and place.

The trip leaves the boundaries of the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom, involving camping and hiking, museums and parks, lectures and discussion, reading and writing, and “some of the most beautiful landscape America has to offer,” Kaukonen said.

“The American West has fascinated Americans and the world as the subject of many novels and films and is also at the center of many debates about American history, regionalism and the role of westward expansion in our history,” Crane said.

“In my class, we will examine the region known as the American West, focusing on the role of environment, migration, capitalism, and expansion in the development of the region,” he said. “We will seek to gain a clear understanding of how the region is defined, the critical events of western history, and the different communities that changed and created the American West.”

In Kaukonen’s class, students will read authors who have written about the West and their relationship to it, “both personally and communally, in fiction, poetry, and essays,” he said.

“The students will write about their own experience within landscape—the landscape of the West, but also the landscapes from which we come, however different they might be,” Kaukonen said. “We will think about what it means to live in a particular place at a particular time, and we will study how writers look closely at the landscape (or the cityscape) and how they write about what they find there—nature, the environment, sure, but also history, the interaction of man with those landscapes.”

The professors’ experience with previous trips has led to the forthcoming publication of, “You’re Either in the Van or Out of the Van: Pedagogy and Life on the ‘West Trip’,” in the Journal of the West.

“It’s the fifth year that the trip has been offered now since Jeff initiated it, and the fourth year that we’ve worked together on the trip,” Kaukonen said. “It’s educational experience of a different sort, richer and deeper than the sort of experience that can be had online or in a traditional classroom.”

Crane and Kaukonen will hold informational meetings for interested students on Tuesday (March 1), at 2 p.m. in Evans Building Room 313; Wednesday (March 2), at 2 p.m. in Evans Building Room 105; and Tuesday (March 8), at noon in Evans Building Room 105.

The cost of the trip is $750, plus tuition and spending money. The non-tuition expense includes transportation, two meals a day minimum, motel rooms, campsites, museum fees, and park fees.

Trip size is limited to 18 students and priority will be given to students who enroll in both classes.

For more information, contact Crane at jlc041@shsu.edu or Kaukonen at kaukonen@shsu.edu.



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