Syllabus #3

ENG 240 A: American Literature

Dr. Colleen Warren
Taylor University


Lauter, Paul, et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Second ed., Vols. 1 and 2

Supplementary packet, handouts as needed


This course is a survey of American literature. Because of time constraints, we will not be able to cover the majority of the texts included in the anthologies. Student canon reports, however, will allow the class to become acquainted with several other texts not assigned to the class in general. The course will be organized chronologically and will include historical, cultural, and social frameworks for the primary texts. Genres covered will include short fiction, drama, essays, a novel, and poetry. My approaches to these works will probably center on the sociological, historical, feminist, and psychological, but I'm eager to include your interests as well.


With above, to:

* refine critical thinking ability

* improve communication capabilities, both verbal and written expression

* understand the tensions and connections between a Christian world view and the alternatives

* acknowledge and understand the needs and values that motivate characters and create situations, in order to develop Christian responses to each

* explore cultural, racial, ethnic, and gender variations in expression, emphasis, and style


Discussion: I'll depend upon each student's participation in discussion as the framework for the course. Your grade will be partially based upon your participation, but hopefully a more important motivation for you will be your own involvement in comprehending the literature and making this class fit your interests.

Quizzes: I will frequently give quizzes, usually unannounced, worth 10 points and serving as reading checks to encourage you to keep up with the reading assignments. These will be specific enough to require a careful, not cursory, reading of the texts.

Annotations: You will need to provide 8 annotations by the end of the term at a rate (not an average) of 1-2 every two weeks; these are informal, require no particular organization or focus, and can be in any form you wish: i.e., outlines, full sentences, brief comments, specific marginalia, etc. They should be at least one page in length, legible, and should include the following elements:

* the context for your comments: Make clear the aspect/section of the text to which you are referring.

* specificity: Refer to details and passages of the text.

* response: what you think of a particular passage/point/idea and why

* interpretation: show me that you have put some thought into the themes, ideas, purposes, style, images, etc. of the text. I am not asking that you find "hidden meanings" necessarily, but that you have done more than paraphrase or summarize the text

* scope: should mention all texts covered that day.

The annotations are due on the day we cover the material you are annotating.

Peer editing: On peer editing days, you will bring a completed draft of your paper and 2 copies of it. I will place you in groups of three; the two other members of your group will read and edit your RD, making suggestions for improvement; you will do the same for them. You will receive a grade, up to 20 points, for having a completed draft, which I define as having an intro, body, and conclusion and being within one page of the required final length. Your peer editing will also be given up to 20 points, based on quantity of comments and their usefulness (i.e., specificity, suggestions, attention to the content).

Canon Report: Throughout the term, seven groups of five (groups established early in the term) will read and present reports on alternate, unassigned literature from Volumes 1 and 2. As a group, they will determine which of their chosen texts should be included in "the canon" and give their criteria for exclusion or inclusion, thus addressing issues of canonicity. Full details will be given in a separate handout.

Papers: Two papers must be completed for this course. Note that on the assignment sheet there are four designated deadlines. You are free to choose which two of these four you would like to meet.

Your interests, time concerns, and general procrastination will determine which due date you choose. However, if the sign-up is unbalanced, I reserve the right to resort to coercion. Students will be allowed to revise one paper for same or higher credit, provided they meet with me after radical revision has been made.

Revision means re-visioning.

Final Exam: Will be passage recognition, author identification


Aug. 30: Intro to class: syllabus, canon, papers

Aug. 31: Integration

Sept. 2: Integration

Sept. 5: No class: Labor Day

Sept. 6: Lecture: Lit Crit

Sept. 7: "Big Two-Hearted River" (packet)

Sept. 9: Critical Approaches: Psychoanalytic intro and Lamb article

Sept. 12: The Yellow Wall-Paper 800

Sept. 13: Critical Approaches: New Historicism intro

Sept. 14: Lecture on Lit Crit: my process and sample paper

Sept. 16: "Holiday" (packet)

Sept. 19: Critical Approaches: Feminist intro and Jones

Sept. 20: Canon Discussion/Practice lit analysis

Sept. 21: "Moon Lake" (packet)

Sept. 23: Critical Approaches: Reader Response intro and Yaeger, Warren articles

Sept. 26: Peer Editing #l

Sept. 27: Bradford 247-253, 260-63; Bradstreet 293 The Author, 305, 311

Sept. 28: Taylor 384, 385; Edwards 584

Sept. 30: Franklin 715, 722

Oct. 3: 1st DUE DATE Paine 861

Oct. 4: Canon Report #l

Oct. 5: Poe 1371, 1438, 1442

Oct. 7: Jacobs 1753-1776/Douglass 1676-1695

Oct. 10: Peer Editing #2

Oct. 11: Emerson 1542

Oct. 12: Grimké 1857/Garnet 1870/Whittier 1846/Harper 1967/Stowe 2359, 2364

Oct. 14: Thoreau 2029-45

Oct. 17: 2nd DUE DATE Hawthorne 2147

Oct. 18: Melville 2487

Oct. 19: Whitman 2824, 2841

Oct. 21: Canon Report #2

Oct. 24: Dickinson poems

Oct. 25: VOLUME II: Davis 43

Oct. 26: Twain: "Diary of Adam and Eve" (packet)

Oct. 28: Canon Report #3

Oct. 31: Peer Editing #3

Nov. 1: Crane 709

Nov. 2: Masters 1127-29; Robinson 1061 "Eros"; Frost 1206 "Pacific," 1207 "Design"

Nov. 4: Intro to Modernism, Imagism

Nov. 7: 3rd DUE DATE Pound 1261 "Metro", 1259 "Virginal"; Williams 1312, 1315; H.D. 1384 "Helen," 1384 "Walls"; Cummings 1424 etc., 1428 Picasso," 1433

Nov. 8: Canon Report #4

Nov. 9: Eliot 1437

Nov. 11: Moore 1508 "Poetry"; Stevens 1535 "Snow Man," 1541; Hughes 1613 "Rivers"; Cullen 1646 "Marvel"; McKay 1691 "Die"

Nov. 14: Peer Editing #4

Nov. 15: Faulkner: "A Justice" (packet)

Nov. 16: O'Connor: "Parker's Back" (packet)

Nov. 18: Williams 2055

Nov. 21: 4th DUE DATE Oates 2160

Nov. 22: Mason: "Shiloh" (packet)

Nov. 23: Canon Report #5

Nov. 25: No class

Nov. 28: No class

Nov. 29: Updike 2173

Nov. 30: Canon Report #6

Dec. 2: Rich 2531, 2535 "Power"; Sexton 2353; Plath: "In Plaster" (packet)

Dec. 5: TBA

Dec. 6: Canon Report #7

Dec. 7: RE-WRITES DUE Ginsberg 2379; Jones 2704 "Poem"; Dove 3085, 3087; Hongo 2961

Dec. 9: Canon Discussion

Dec. 12-15: Exam Week


Members of the group should meet early in the term to begin discussing the issues of canonicity and to determine what texts should be included in their section of a mock syllabus for the first half of a semester-length American literature course. Some possible issues to consider might be:

* Historical representation: representation from all historical periods. Should some receive more representation? Less? Can you, on any basis, justify not representing certain periods? Should historical backgrounds be given? How much class time allotted to background, if any?

*"Movement" representation: Should literature be classed within movements, such as Romanticism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Modernist, Harlem Renaissance, Southern Renaissance, Imagism, etc.? Should explanations of the individual movements (their theories, values, etc.) be given?

* Worth of authors: Should only "big names" be represented? Which minor voices should be included? Why or why not? On what bases should particular voices be included? Should they be chosen on the basis of reputation, groundbreaking technique or ideas, gender, minority status, variety of representation, etc.

* Potential for discussion: Some texts, although interesting, may be so straightforward that they provide little stimulus for discussion. How important are interpretive content or controversial ideas in determining whether a text should be included in the canon?

* Genres: how many genres should be represented? Short fiction, nonfiction, drama, novels, poetry, narratives, etc. How much time is available to allot to each genre? Should the focus be more on one genre than another? Should some texts be included simply for the sake of genre representation?

* Interest: What texts are most interesting to students? Should some texts be covered even if they aren't particularly interesting simply because they are "important" texts?

* Reading level: Should difficult texts be left out? Should challenging texts be few and far between or the norm?

* Controversial texts: Especially at a Christian college and from a Christian perspective, should some texts not be covered simply because of their non-Christian ideas, questionable situations, objectionable language, etc.? Should we face real, though secular, issues or avoid them? If covered, what should our response be to them? How should they be covered in class discussion?


* Pace: How many total texts should be covered? Should difficult texts be given more than one class period?

* Number of texts/Type of texts per author: Should only one text from each author be studied? For what reasons should more selections be given? Variety? Differing techniques or philosophies? Should a more "major" figure be given more representation than a minor author?


* Meet as a group at least two times prior to presentation (in addition to class session given) to discuss issues, compare notes, devise a plan for your presentation, allot responsibilities, etc.

* Read articles on canon issues and implement these ideas in your presentation. (Some are available in my office for check-out.)

* Take notes on the discussion the group has and on the reading that you do.

* Perhaps interview other American lit teachers (high school, college, or English majors) and get their input on "essential texts" for an American lit course.

* If some texts are difficult to understand, read critical analyses of them; incomprehensibility is nearly always an inadequate reason for exclusion from the canon.

* Read the biographical sketches which precede the texts to gain additional insight about the authors and the texts themselves. Reading historical contexts provided in the anthology may also be useful, particularly in pointing out the influence, popularity, or philosophies of a given writer or text.

* Carefully read the texts themselves--multiple times if necessary.


* Unlike in the past, when I formed groupings from the tables of contents for The Heath Anthology, Volumes 1 and 2, I have chosen this year to allow students to choose their own groupings of around 50 total pages of reading. Groups should cover all of the works of a particular author(s). No authors who are already represented on my syllabus can be selected. Selections will be given on a first come, first serve selection. You should have some criteria in mind as you make your selections, hopefully not just "this-looked-like-easy-reading. " Groups should be formed based on chronology, thematics, or some other logic. There will be a total of seven groups of five members. I can direct you in forming groups if you'd like. Six extra copies of Volume 1 are available in the library.

For the presentation:

* The group will collectively present the criteria they have chosen, explaining each criterion and why they consider each important. Rank in order of importance. This information should be given as a visual aid (handout, blackboard, overhead, poster, etc.)

* Each group will be given one class period to present its material (approximately 8 minutes per student, 10 minutes for intro/conclusion).

* Each member should:

l) give short synopses of the different text selections he or she has read

2) conclude the general tenor, theme, subject matter, focus, etc. of that author's represented works if there are several works represented (Note: 1 or 2 should take up only 2-3 minutes of each student's time.)

3) note any necessary or interesting biographical parallels

4) present an argument for the author(s)' inclusion or exclusion from the canon, using the criteria chosen. This may be composed of only one complete text, excerpts from a longer text, or a small collection of shorter texts.

5) collectively, present a "syllabus" on your section, given 7 days to work within.


* Each group will be awarded a group grade, based on originality and creativity of presentation, working within time constraints, completed syllabus selection, and thoughtfulness with which selections were made, including justification for inclusion or exclusion.

* Each member will be given an individual grade, based on effective use of time, knowledge of material, preliminary/prep work done, quality of presentation.


* Class time will be reserved (last week and during final exam period) to discuss the various criteria, authors, and texts students have chosen throughout the term. We will compile a list of the authors and texts chosen and try to hone down that no doubt extensive list to a manageable selection for half a semester of assignments. In preparation for these class sessions, for which attendance is required, students should be taking notes throughout the term on the reports they hear. Notes should serve to remind students of the subject matter/focus of texts, and justifications of criteria choices.


* Choose sections based on interest and expertise as much as possible; for example, colonial and federalist literature would be well-suited for those with an interest in history, transcendentalism for those with an interest in philosophy or religion, romantic lit for those with an interest in humanities or psychology, Enlightenment for science/math majors, Native American for those with an interest in anthropology or sociology, etc.

* Be creative! Go out on a limb in how you present your material!

Contents, No. XIII