Passages: American Comings-of-Age


Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Taught by

American studies

Nothing stimulates the memory or the imagination more than coming-of-age stories. —Mary Frosch

This two-quarter program will explore the complex ways in which American individuals, groups and the United States itself come of age. We will immerse ourselves in rites (and rights) of passage as captured in art—primarily through literature and writing, but also as revealed in film, music and other forms. Individuals and groups, on lifelong journeys, navigate relationships, encounter crises, grow and change and move from childhood to adulthood. Like Joseph Campbell’s archetypal hero, people leave home (literally and/or figuratively), encounter and slay demons (recognize and solve problems) and return home forever transformed: they come of age (live happily ever after). Stories of passage from “the Old World” (both voluntary and coerced) set beside stories from the people who already were here chronicle the further realignment and redefinition of this nation, often in destructive ways. American literature explores racial, gender and other forms of “passing.” All of the Americas experienced critical convergences of social, cultural, political and other forces that moved them from infancy through childhood to adolescence to…what? 

Military involvement abroad, continuing domestic turmoil and various cultural divides mark an uneasy passage into our 21st century. We will focus on “minority” voices who will help us to define the "American" story. In fall quarter, we will read a wide range of ethnic “minority” fiction and nonfiction and will write our personal accounts of passages in essay and creative nonfiction forms. In winter quarter, we will shift from ethnicity to other forms of “minority” status, including those associated with class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, position (as in family) and ability. Winter quarter's writing will be nonfiction and adaptations to fiction. Throughout the program, students will work individually and collaboratively to strengthen their critical and creative writing skills and, ultimately, to tell their own coming-of-age stories. 

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

American literature, writing, teaching and multicultural fields.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.


Date Revision
October 15th, 2012 This program has been cancelled.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 50% Freshmen


Course Reference Number not yet available.


Accepting New Students

Course Reference Number not yet available.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.