Syllabus #1

Survey of American Literature II
Spring 1991

Professor John Green
Villanova University



Note: This is a new anthology, just published. It incorporates the "new canon," a wide selection of writers beyond the usual male WASP "classics"

HANDOUTS are assigned reading same as the text.

TERM PAPER: Topics on separate sheet.

EXAMS: At least two; three, if time permits.

QUIZZES: Fairly often, unless assigned readings generate class discussion. If most people are not doing the readings, quizzes will be more frequent.

READINGS (to be read before lectures )

xxix-xxxv. "To the Reader" How did this anthology come about?

3-35. Late Nineteenth Century, 1865-1910. Explain the following terms: Social Gospel, Social Darwinism, RAMONA, W.E.B. DuBois, Seneca Falls Convention, WCTU, World's Columbia Exposition, Gilded Age, Thorstein Veblen

35-41. Julia Foote asks, "What is woman's prophetic role in churches?"

110-2; 112-119. Sarah Orne Jewett. "The White Heron. " Does Sylvia refuse a chance to grow up? Explain the last paragraph.

135-8 ; 159-71. Mary Wilkins. "Old Woman Magoun." Why did she kill her granddaughter? Is it suggested that she had done the same thing to her daughter? What does the story say about Industry and Self-Reliance, men and women?

192-4. Regional Voices, National Voices.

214-230, plus the following chapters from HUCK FINN: I, V, VII, VIII, XI, XV, XVI, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXXI, & the Last. (See STUDY GUIDE for TWAIN* )

473-6; 482-8. Paul Laurence Dunbar. LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE. Who was Frederick Douglass? In "An Ante-Bellum Sermon," what is the implied connection between the ancient Israelites and American Blacks in the 1850's?

548-626. Henry James. "Daisy Miller." Why does James stress the city of Geneva?--Winterbourne's base--so much? What does Geneva represent? Note also how often the term "innocent" is used. The two terms sort of represent the conflict in the story. HAWTHORNE. What are the SCARLET LETTER'S weaknesses, acc to J? "Beast in the Jungle." ( See STUDY GUIDE*) How is the theme of this story similar to "Daisy Miller"?

626-637; 648-52. Kate Chopin. In these stories, there is usually

a conflict between marriage and freedom. Which side does Chopin seem to be on?

652-8. Ambrose Bierce. "Chickamauga." (Chickamauga was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. How does Bierce emphasize its horror ?)

738-54. Issues & Visions. Standing Bear. Ghost Dance Songs. Charles Eastman. How successful was the effort to assimilate Indians to Paleface ways? What happened at Wounded Knee in 1890?

782-90. W.E.B. DuBois. What disagreement does DuBois have with Booker T. Washington? How can Blacks better themselves?

828-49. Henry Adams. What does the Dynamo represent? The Virgin?

850-51. New Explorations of an "American" Self.

923-931. Mary Antin. THE PROMISED LAND. What was the key to America for this Jewish girl from Eastern Europe? What was the matter with her father?

933-962. MODERN PERIOD, 1910-1945. Where and how did Modernism reach the U. S.? What was "Modernism"? What was the Scopes

Trial (1925) about? IDENTIFY EACH of the following: Palmer Raid,

Jazz Age, Sacco-Vanzetti, Margaret Sanger, Coolidge, Great

Depression, Nineteenth Amendment, Marcel Duchamp, Greenwich

Village, Myrna Loy, Gertrude Stein, Prohibition, Stock Market

Crash, Alienation, Allotment Act of 1887.

1033-37. Edgar Lee Masters , SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY. The dead speak from their graves; some are bitter, some content.

1387-1393. Ernest Hemingway. "Hills Like White Elephants." What

are the couple arguing about?

1393-1398. Wallace Stevens. "Sunday Morning"; "Snow Man";

'Anecdote"; "Of Modern Poetry". Few pages but tough. READ AND RE-READ. What is at issue in "Sunday Morning"? (See STUDY GUIDE*)

1456-59. Harlem Renaissance. Who are the major writers?

1581-6. Blues. What is the origin of these songs?

1587-99. John Dos Passos. U.S.A. was a sprawling 3-part novel. "The body of an American" is from NINETEEN NINETEEN ( 1932 ), and concerns the Unknown Soldier. "Bitter Drink" is from THE BIG MONEY (1936). Thorstein Veblen was a brilliant, eccentric sociologist and economist who attacked conventional theories. His most famous work, THE THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS (1899) is still great. (One key phrase: "conspicuous consumption.")

1599-1609. Michael Gold (Yitzhak Granich). JEWS WITHOUT MONEY. This selection might he called "Mama vs the Landlord." Why is Mama able to overawe the landlord?

1610-15. George Schuyler. What is the Blacks' "greatest gift to America"? What is Schuyler satirically attacking?

1624-9. Lillian Hellman accuses liberal intellectuals of cowardice during the McCarthy Era. How did she behave with HUAC?

1648-62. Meridel Le Sueur records the bitterly hard lives of women during the Depression. How did these women try to cope? "Annunciation": Explain the title. What is Karl's attitude?

1662-67. What problem of Identity does Thomas Whitecloud have? In what ways is the Indian "inferior"? By whose criteria is he inferior?

1668. Further Exploration of an "American" Self. What does E PLURIBUS UNUM mean? Where does this motto appear? Does the U.S. exemplify this idea?

1688-97. Anzia Yezierska. Who was John Dewey? Why does Yezierska keep insisting on her difference? How does she compare with Mary Antin (923-31)? What does Yezierska mean, "There is no America"? How is she finally reconciled?

1755-62 . Why was the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) passed? What theme runs through these poems written on the walls?

1764-85. CONTEMPORARY PERIOD, 1945 to Present. What happened to the U.S. between 1945 and 1975? What were the expectations, and what was the fulfillment? IDENTIFY: INVISIBLE MAN, Brown vs Board of Education, Hiroshima, Bay of Pigs, "I have a dream", My Lai, WISE BLOOD, Tillie Olsen, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich.

1843-54. INVISIBLE MAN (1952) is one of the most important novels of the 20th century--Black or otherwise. (A term paper could be based on your reading of the whole novel--I have a STUDY GUIDE) The question of Identity is central to the novel, as is indicated on 1845. The plot of the work is foreshadowed by the grandfather's phrase, "Keep This Nigger-Boy Running."

1882-88. Grace Paley. A funny story about blending cultures.

1935-1947. (Mary) Flannery O'Connor. In her stories the moment of grace. How is that reflected here? The Misfit puts on Bailey's shirt. What does this signify? (See what grandmother says just before she is shot). Judging by what he says, what change of attitude does the Misfit undergo on 1947? Why?

1957-1969. Martin Luther King was influenced by both Gandhi and Thoreau. What phrases does King repeat for rhetorical effect? (Remember, he's giving a speech)



Be on the lookout for these in the stories and poems. Since we find them in the literature, they may reflect some historical reality. Some of the qualities, such as self-reliance and toughness, Americans like to attribute to themselves. One question we have to consider is, Were (and are) these qualities more mythic than real? Other qualities, such as loneliness and racism, Americans did (and do) not like to admit, but according to the evidence of literature and history, they were (and are) unquestionably there (and here).

*Loneliness and Isolation (EXAMPLES: Poe, "The Raven"; Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"; Huck Finn; Emily Dickinson; James; etc.)

Toughness (Early Spanish and French explorers; Native Americans; Later immigrants; Blacks; etc.) How does toughness relate to Loneliness and Self-Reliance? Other qualities?

Sense of Adventure

Exploration (and Exploitation)


Freedom and Opportunity

*Self-Reliance (Title of an essay by Emerson, 1841; 1859: Sam Smiles, SELF-HELP, published in England but popular here)

Racism (the 19th century classic treatment is HUCK FINN. In the 20th century it is Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN. Many others.

Search for Identity. Pervasive.

Materialism. Pervasive.

Contents, No. VI