Using The Heath Anthology of American Literature
A number of instructors began to use The Heath Anthology of American Literature in their classes only days after the text was published. What follows are several syllabi and a selection of student responses from the first classes to use The Heath Anthology.
Jan. 22 Introduction to the book, the course, the classmates. Buy the book. Film in class: "Mark Twain's America" Discussion of assignment #1
Jan. 29 Paper 1 due. Read Alcott 68-; Phelps 92-; Jewett, "The White Heron" 112 and Freeman, "The Revolt of Mother" 148
Feb. 5 Read Twain 230-292. Journal check
Feb. 12 Read poems by Dunbar: 482, 486, 488; finish discussing Twain and folktales
Feb. 19 College Closed: Presidents' Day
Feb. 26 Henry James, "Daisy Miller" 551, Chopin, "Desirée's Baby" 628 and "The Storm" 648
March 5 Crane, "The Open Boat" 697, "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" 714
March 12 College Closed: Spring Break
March 19 Journal Check, Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-Paper" 761. Paper #2 by this date
March 26 Midterm Exam; Poetry by Frost, Millay, Cummings
April 2 Du Bois 785; Washington 869
April 9 Cather, "Old Mrs. Harris" 1041; Wharton, "Roman Fever" 1024, Fitzger ald, "Babylon Revisited" 1333; Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" 1390
April 16 Porter "The Grave" 1366; Faulkner, ""Barn Burning" 1410; filmstrip "The Harlem Renaissance"; poems by Hughes; Blues
April 23 Paper 3 due; read Morrison 1993; Updike 2007; Momaday 2038
April 30 Read Kingston 2094; Sildo 2167; Erdrich 2180; Hansberry "Raisin in the Sun"
May 7 Works by modern poets: Bishop, Brooks, Dickey, Sexton, Knight, Plath
May 14 Final exam 6-9 p.m.
After approximately five weeks using Volume 2 of The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Dr. King asked her students to respond to the text by writing generally around the following questions in their journals:
What are the strengths of the book as you have experienced them so far?
What are the weaknesses?
What have you particularly enjoyed reading and discussing in class?
Do you think you will enjoy the rest of the book? Explain.
"I am glad that we are using a textbook that has a new idea of what is representative of our literature. I am amazed at the feminist-type writing--it portrays the same frustrations that many of us feel today. I feel that the short biographies of the authors are well-written and interesting. I am positive that I will enjoy the rest of the book."
"The strengths of the book are the short studies of the authors explaining their background and how/why they wrote the kind of stories they did. Even though the stories are assignments, I am looking forward to reading more . . ."
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the readings and expect the rest of the book to be just as good. I'm glad they've chosen a variety of authors rather than reading ones we've read before in other classes or in high school."
"The strength of the book that I have experienced is that it gives you some vision of the author you are reading as well as the author's work. The weakness is that some dialects are hard to read; yet most of the readings are enjoyable once the dialect is mastered. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) and "The White Heron" (Jewett) were my favorites. I think the rest of the book will be enjoyed as well because of my interest in literature for the first time."
"The background information really lets you feel like you know the author personally."
"One of the main strengths in my opinion is that this book offers the works of authors that are not especially well known. I enjoy finding good stories that I didn't even know existed. It is a great way to break away from a myopic view of literature. I look forward to reading more of these."
"I believe the strongest point of the text is the organization of the material. I especially like the manner in which the short stories, poetry, and poems are preceded by brief synopses of the authors' lives. This provided insight into the background and themes of some of the pieces, particularly those that were inspired by experiences or represent an autobiography of the author's life."
"Many of the authors I am somewhat familiar with, but had not read many of their works. Now that I have read the stories, I can appreciate the authors so much more. I am sure I will enjoy the rest of the book. I have glanced at some of the other stories and authors that we will have later, and they seemed just as exciting."
"I think one of the main strengths of the book is the fact that you are not reading the same old material that has always been considered American literature. I really like the fact that women and minority writers are included in the book. I also like the way the book is set up in order of periods in time. I do think that I will enjoy the rest of the book. I'm sure that I will continue to read material from the book after the semester has ended."
"The strengths of the book so far are the variety of the stories, inclusion of numerous women authors and biographies about all of the authors included in the same section as their literature. The variety is a strength. . . I've enjoyed the selections by women authors because I could fully relate to a lot of them. By including the authors' biographies in the same section as their selections, I was encouraged to read more than I would if they were in another part of the book--and by reading the biographies, I understood more about the stories than if I read stories without the insight of the writer. I feel sure I'll enjoy the rest of the book--both what we pursue in class and what I read after the course is finished."
"I like the idea that the book explains the stories the author has written. Also how it tells you a little about the author's past. I like the stories that were picked out to go in this anthology. If what we have read so far is a prelude to the rest of the book, I think I will enjoy it."
"I have always wanted to read some of the classics. This book also lets you take a peek at some of the work of more obscure writers, which I think is important in order to get a full literary background. The fact that there is some pertinent information about each author is a strength. I am looking forward to the other adventures this book will take me on."
"After reading 9-10 selections of The Heath Anthology, I am impressed with the selections and have enjoyed them immensely. I haven't yet uncovered what I would consider weaknesses. I know that even though I have only made a cursory review of the book, I will certainly enjoy all of the selections. I am assuming that the rest of the book contains the same level of excellence as what I've already read."
"The strengths of the book are the wide variety of story and author selections: male and female, black and white."