Hawthorne and Summer in the Ozarks

trent_in_class.jpeg The photo shows Dr. Trent Watts, Assistant Professor of English and Technical Communication, making a point in his summer school class. In this particular session, the class was discussing Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s short story, "The Minister’s Black Veil."
Hawthorne’s explorations of Puritan New England might seem like heavy work on a warm July day in the 21st century Ozarks. In fact, the atmosphere in Hawthorne’s fiction is often dark enough to chill the summer heat here in Rolla. Dr. Watts is teaching American Literature I this summer, thus the Hawthorne. I asked him to comment on summer school and on early American literature. Here’s what he told me:

On Summer Teaching

"In summer school students typically take one or two courses rather than the four or five they take during the fall and spring semesters. This more relaxed pace gives professors and students a chance really to concentrate on classes within the major or to explore a new subject. The classes are typically small and the campus offers few distractions from academic work. "

On Early American Literature

"This literature is timely and relevant because it shows Americans wrestling with the very same questions that animate us today: what does it mean to be an American? how can we make a nation from such diverse peoples? what is the best way to build a government that protects liberties and provides order? what is our connection to and responsibility for the natural world around us?"
Dr. Watts’ second comment, of course, includes much more than Hawthorne: just a few of the writers covered are
Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson.