Syllabus #4

English 453: American Literature, 1865-1900
Summer 1993

Professor Robert Hogge
Weber State University


Welcome to this class in American literature! I look forward to discussing with you Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Booker T. Washington, Henry Adams, and a host of other important authors. In an eight-week summer course, we won't have time to study all of the authors in great depth, but the goal of the course is to give you a taste of a wide variety of authors, hopefully whetting your appetite for further reading.


Here is the required text: Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol 2. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1990. (Editor's note: Professor Hogge and his 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.)

Explanation of Graded Assignments:

For the creative essay, I'd like you to write a parody of Mark Twain or one of his works--or an additional brief chapter or episode for Huck Finn. For Chopin, write a critical analysis of one of the stories we don't discuss in class. Keep a daily journal, responding to what you read--at least 15 minutes for each assigned author. At the end of the course, you'll extract the best entries from your daily journal--and submit 3 typed pages. The term paper will be an analysis or exploration of some writer, work, movement (social, literary, or historical) or combination of these elements, using the material in The Heath Anthology as a primary source. But you may also use other sources. Document according to MLA style. I'll also assign you to study an author in The Heath Anthology we will not be covering in class. You'll present an oral report on that author, along with a one-page written analysis developing these headings: Key Autobiographical Details; Most Important Publications; Major Contribution to the Period; Critical Reception; Important Literary Themes, Techniques, or Innovations. I'll give further explanations of these assignments in class.

Course Outline

21 Jun: Discuss course objectives. Analyze poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

23 Jun: Read Sarah Orne Jewett, pp. 110-35.

24 Jun: Read Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, pp. 135-71.

28 Jun: Read Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain), pp. 213-36 and 419-421.

30 Jun: Read Twain's Huck Finn, pp. 236-82.

1 Jul: Read Twain's Huck Finn, pp. 282-332.

5 Jul: Independence Day Holiday (no class).

7 Jul: Read Twain's Huck Finn, pp. 332-77.

8 Jul: Read Twain's Huck Finn, pp. 377-419.

12 Jul: Turn-in creative essay (a parody of Twain or an extra episode of Huck Finn).

14 Jul: Read William Dean Howells, pp. 520-556. Turn-in daily journal with entries from Jewett to Howells.

15 Jul: Read Henry James, pp. 557-599.

19 Jul: Read Henry James, pp. 599-635.

21 Jul: Read Kate Chopin, pp. 635-61.

22 Jul: Turn-in a critical analysis of a story by Kate Chopin (a story not discussed in class).

26 Jul: Read Ambrose Bierce (pp. 661-67) and Hamlin Garland (pp. 667-97).

28 Jul: Read Stephen Crane, pp. 706-743.

29 Jul: Read Charlotte Perkins Gilman, pp. 799-819.

2 Aug: Turn in term paper.

4 Aug: Read Henry Adams, pp. 870-91.

5 Aug: Read Booker T. Washington, pp. 982-1009. Turn in daily journal with entries from James to Washington.

9 Aug: Turn in analysis of assigned author. Present oral reports as assigned.

11 Aug: Turn in the best of the journal. Present oral reports as assigned.

12 Aug: Take the final examination.

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Here are some excerpts from Professor Hogge's students' journals on Sarah Orne Jewett:

* "Reading about her personal life, I drew conclusions that changed rapidly as I read her two works: "A White Heron" and "The Foreigner."

*"She has a way of bringing her characters to life, not vibrantly, but realistically. There was one line in "A White Heron" that is beautiful; I had to read it over and over again, and just let it soak in; it's one of those lines that can never be improved. 'The woman's heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love.'"

*"[In "The Foreigner"] perhaps the most mysterious act of Mrs. Tolland is surrounded in her death. On the night of her death, Mrs. Tolland began acting strangely, and much to Mrs. Todd's surprise, she rose from her bed and witnessed the face of her dead mother, as if she had come to assist her daughter in the journey through death."

*"I think Jewett was a writer who could still capture the feelings and experiences of childhood. In "A White Heron" Jewett takes the reader into the little girl's world and lets me experience her enthusiasm, fear, and concern for nature. As mentioned in Ammons' introduction, I see the conflicts between urban and rural as the girl conforms to her new surroundings; scientific and empathetic, as the girl keeps her secret about the heron's whereabouts from the hunter; masculine and feminine, as the girl overcomes her fear of the hunter and the grandmother scurries around to please the man; and adult and juvenile, as both the little girl and the hunter struggle to win in their situations."

*"I like how ["The Foreigner"] too brought out the power of women. Mis' Tolland's only true friends in the end were women. A prince did not come riding in and save her. Even the priest and the doctor failed. Only the other women, and eventually her deceased mother, "saved" Mis' Tolland."

*"Jewett's story "The Foreigner" is like a ghost story, with its depiction of strange people with strange ways and ending with spectral appearances. But also present in this unusual story is friendship between two unlikely women, not only of the past but also of the present--the two women giving comfort to each other during a raging storm."

*"'The White Heron' depicts the conflicting values of [the hunter and the little girl], and when these values meet head on, refreshingly, friendship and life can not be sold out to wealth. . . "

*"It is evident also that Jewett put strong emphasis on friendships. However, if a choice had to be made between friendship and the love of nature, nature would win, at least according to 'A White Heron'."

*"Somehow at the end of ["A White Heron"] she figures the life of the bird and the loveliness of the world are more meaningful to her than the satisfaction of this stranger or the wealth he so frivolously threw her way."

*"[In "A White Heron"] the relationship which was being explored was between a young girl and nature. It focused on the bubble which surrounds the individual and the fragile nature of its existence. There is a maturation which takes place in the young girl when she is forced to choose between the worldly wealth which would come from disclosing the whereabouts of the nest, as opposed to the inner wealth acquired by allowing the heron to live."

Contents, No. XI