Syllabus #3

English 261: Survey of American Literature II
Fall 1993

Professor Roseanne Hoefel
Alma College

Required Texts:

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Fort Worth, TX: HBJ College Publishers, 1993.

Paul Lauter, et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature Volume 2. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1990. (Editor's note: Professor Hoefel and her students used the First Edition of the text for the course described here. Page numbers and titles of introductions have, however, been changed to correspond to the Second Edition, the text that most Newsletter readers will refer to now. Page numbers indicate the beginning of the selection; unless otherwise noted, students are expected to read the entire selection(s) named.)

Gloria Naylor. Mama Day

Small supplementary course packet

Course Goals:

A major objective of this class is to increase your understanding of the American literature community from the Civil War to the present. As our awareness of cultural, literary, social, political, religious, and artistic diversity evolves, so too does our appreciation of the American literary canon. By reading multiple genres and voices, you will come to understand the language and techniques of literature and explore ways in which literature is personally meaningful both in depicting your perceptions of yourself, this country, the world, and in offering a sense of individual and communal identity. We will foster this connection by developing the skills needed to a) assess the historical context and aesthetic quality of a work, b) analyze its form and structure, and, ideally, c) engage in a creative experience.

To facilitate these goals and to offer a sense of the evolving themes and trends, the syllabus is arranged historically. This progression will allow us to witness revealing changes in the oral and written sources of literature and the invention of experimental forms not always readily received. We will discover the various effective literary forms writers used to achieve their purposes: folk tale, narrative, drama, journal, sermon, essay, poetry, short story, and novel. In addition, we will make every effort to increase our sensitivity to figurative language: symbol, metaphor, simile, etc.

Note also that--as is the nature of a "survey" course--we will be reading a sampling of many authors. While this is not always the most gratifying approach to reading, it will expose you to the rich diversity in writers, styles, subjects, and ideas that constitute America's literary heritage.

This is a lecture/discussion course, but I would like to emphasize discussion: at times, class will be an experience in sharing our subjective readings, influenced as they are by our diverse situatedness; other times, we may "try on" a particular interpretation, see how it fits, check it for "defects," etc. Always, though, we will attempt to achieve a more informed knowledge of the works based on our exploratory groping. We will consider, e.g., how these writers shaped our emerging nation and how our emerging nation shaped them.

Much of our focus will be concentrated on developing the ability to read well, respond to, and write about America's rich literary heritage. Our job is to interact with writers who have expressed our country's dreams, anxieties, hopes, achievements, failures, and fears. In order to enhance our appreciation and expand our knowledge of the course content, each student must be an active participant in the class, offering her/his ideas, opinions, and questions. Such a dialogue will illuminate the many dimensions of each text. Our readings and discussions will also be directed toward the goal of writing clear, analytical themes that reflect your particular interest in some aspect of the literature. Are we having fun yet? Trust me, we WILL!

A note about the readings listed below: I expect you to read the items listed for a given day by classtime. Read the instructive biographical headnotes on each of the authors we study. Of course, a strong grasp of the overall sociohistorical context of each of the literary time periods and movements is provided by the outstanding survey-summaries included in The Heath Anthology (and noted on the syllabus). To better familiarize you with the terminology and critical perspectives, I ask that you frequently refer to Abrams' excellent guide/glossary.

Group presentations will consist of a concise overview (not to exceed 20 minutes!) of the assigned sub-periods in American literature and its corresponding, lesser-known writers--whom we as a class would otherwise not have time to cover, given the exigencies of a survey course.

For each of these literary movements, there will be roughly one student per author. Each student's job will be to read a representative sampling of that writer's work and present a synopsis of it in the shape of a succinct paragraph to be compiled with the other summaries by group members and distributed to class. In your particular summary portions, you may want to include those biographical facts you deem directly relevant to the work or to its classification in this subdivision. For example, Alain Locke's personal interest/involvement in the "black migration" is pertinent to the works anthologized here, as one could note while summarizing "The New Negro."

Keep in mind that a key aim in these collective summaries is exposure to the broad spectrum of writings. Your group's grade will be based on this handout's clarity and precision, as well as your team organization/cooperation, delivery, enthusiasm, and concision in the oral portion of this assignment.

The oral portion of this assignment may require additional research. What I'd like you to do is familiarize yourself enough with the author (or genre in the case, e.g., of "Corridos") so that you can deliver/recite/sing(?) a portion of the selection you deem most significant, and do so in the spirit you attribute to it. For example, research on Marietta Holley would reveal her tremendous wit and playfully ironic tone. Knowing this would enable a presenter to dramatize a representative passage by using a slightly sarcastic edge. I will give extra credit if you commit this passage to memory and, thus, are able to enact it!

Remember that the firm 20" limit does not permit an "in depth" review of any particular author. Rather, it is more conducive to demonstrating the scope of the period and, specifically in your dramatizations, how individuals expressed themselves as part of this literary movement.

Course Calendar (Are you ready? Take a DEEP brea(d)th!)

9/8: Introduction to course, texts, policies, each other

9/10: "Late Nineteenth Century" intro (3); Louisa May Alcott from Work (69); Sarah Orne Jewett "A White Heron" (110)

9/13: "Regional Voices, National Voices" and "African American Folktales" 191; "Why Mr. Dog..." (195); "Who Ate...?" (198); "Memories of Slavery" and "Conjure Stories" (202); "Baby in the Crib" and "John Steals..." (210); distribute group assignment

9/15: Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain (213) "A True Story" (220); Charles Waddell Chesnutt(447) "Po' Sandy" (467); Abrams (143-148)

9/17: PKT (4-11) "Interpreting Sources in the Humanities"; distribute Paper 1 assignment and "The Whole Paper" handout; Kate Chopin (635) "The Storm" (657); Ambrose Bierce (661) PKT (12-18): "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"; video?

Poet Jim Stafford's Poetry Reading 9/22, 8 p.m.!

9/20: Paul Lawrence Dunbar (486) from Lyrics of Lowly Life and Lyrics of the Hearthside (494); Alice Dunbar-Nelson (514) "Sister Josepha" (516); continue video?

9/22: Group Presentation #1: "Issues and Visions in Post Civil War America"; W.E.B. Du Bois (1009) from The Souls of Black Folk "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" (1012); "The Song of the Smoke" (1032)

9/24: Charlotte P. Gilman (799) "The Yellow Wallpaper" (800)

9/27: Group Presentation #2: "New Explorations of an `American' Self"; Booker T. Washington (982) from Up from Slavery Chs.I and VI (984) and (997); PKT (19-23)

9/29: "Modern Period: 1910-1945" (981); E.A. Robinson (1055) "The Clerks" (1057); "Eros Turannos," "Mr. Flood's Party" (1061); Edith Wharton (1077) "The Valley of Childish Things" (1079)

10/1: Robert Frost (1191) "The Pasture," "Mending Wall," "The Road Not Taken," "Out, Out--," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Design," "Provide, Provide"; Edna St. Vincent Millay (1246) "Spring," "The Spring and the Fall," "Love Is Not All," "The Return"

10/4: Willa Cather (1131) "Old Mrs. Harris"

10/6: Continue above; PKT (24) & "Alienation and Literary Experimentation" 1(256); Ezra Pound (1257) "A Virginal," "A Pact," "In a Station of the Metro"

10/8: Gertrude Stein (1297) "Ida, a Novel" and "The Mother of Us All" (1307); William Carlos Williams (bio and poems) (1310)

Journals Due! (3 entries)

10/11: Eugene O'Neill (1330) The Hairy Ape (1332)

10/13: PKT (25) and Hilda Doolittle/HD (1380) poems 1381; e.e. cummings (1421) poems; Marianne Moore (1506) poems; Louise Bogan (1517) "Women" and "The Sleeping Fury"

10/15: Wallace Stevens (1530) "The Snow Man" and "Of Modern Poetry"; T.S. Eliot (1435) "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1437) and "Tradition and the Individual Talent"(1441); PKT (26); review sheet distributed

10/18: F. Scott Fitzgerald "Babylon Revisited" (1469); Ernest Hemingway (1524) "Hills Like White Elephants"; PKT 2(6)

10/20: Katherine Anne Porter "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" (1485); William Faulkner "Barn Burning" (1543)

10/22: Midterm Exam!

10/25: Group Presentation #3: "The New Negro Renaissance" (all read 1579); Jean Toomer (1593) from Cane; Langston Hughes (bio and poems) (1612); Countee Cullen (bio and poems) (1644); James Weldon Johnson (bio and poems) (1033)

10/27: Zora Neale Hurston "Sweat" (1672); Claude McKay (bio and poems) (1689); Blues Lyrics (1722); play Blues? Paper #1 Due!

10/29: Break!

11/1: Group Pres. #4: "Issues and Visions in Modern America"; Lillian Hellman The Children's Hour (a separate packet)

11/3: continue above; Group Presentation #5: "Further Explorations of an `American' Self"

11/5: No class! I'm swapping for your attendance at poet Jim Stafford's poetry reading earlier this term (Sept. 22)!

11/8: John Steinbeck "Flight" (1872); "Contemporary Period: 1945 to the Present" (1965)

11/10: Richard Wright "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" (1886); Ralph Ellison from The Invisible Man, Ch.l "The Battle Royal" (2474); PKT (39-40)

11/12: Tillie Olsen "Tell Me a Riddle" (2202) 4 Journals Due!

1/15: PKT (41-44) and Flannery O'Connor "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (2145); Hisaye Yamamoto "Seventeen Syllables" (2552)

11/17: N. Scott Momaday from The Way to Rainy Mountain (2721); Leslie Marmon Silko "Lullaby" (2731); PKT (45-48)

11/l9: Alice Childress Like One of the Family PKT (27-38)

11/22: James Baldwin "Sonny's Blues" (2614)

11/24: Continue above; Toni Morrison from Sula (2872); preparation for Mama Day; Course/Instructor Evaluations!

11/26: Thanksgiving Break!

11/29: Mama Day (pp. 1-107); 2 journals due

12/1: " " (pp. 108-226)

12/3: " " (pp. 226-312)

12/6: Finish issues, visions, themes, etc. in Mama Day; distribute review sheet and assign poems from list in PKT 49

12/8: Contemporary Poetry Sampler (see PKT 49 for poems, pages: Roethke, Bishop, Hayden, Brooks, Ferlinghetti, Evans, Levertov

12/10: Continue sampler: poems by Ginsberg, Ashbery, Sexton, Rich Knight, Plath, Sanchez, Baraka, Lorde, Piercy, Rose, and Harjo TBA; Paper #2 Due by 5 p.m.!

Contents, No. XI