Syllabus #3

English 138: Contemporary American Literature
Winter 1991

Professor Marilyn Edelstein
Santa Clara University

Professor Edelstein writes:

I used Volume 2 of the anthology as one of the required texts in a new upper division Contemporary American Literature class I taught in winter quarter 1991. All in all, I and my students really liked and learned from the Heath. I had wished the Heath were divided into four volumes instead of two, so period (rather than broader survey) courses like mine could only buy the relevant volume. I felt a little guilty that my students had to buy, along with several other books, a huge volume from which we would only use a fairly small sample-but only a little guilty, since I also thought it would be a wonderful book for students to keep and read around in later.

At the beginning of the course, I asked students to choose writers in either of our anthologies whose work they would like to read. I based more than a third of our final reading list on these student selections. A democratic approach to the curriculum seemed appropriate when using such a "democratic" anthology. Students also suggested final exam questions, and I based two of the final questions on these suggestions.

In class, I distributed additional materials, primarily interviews with and short articles by or about some of the writers in the Heath. I showed several videos, including some Bill Moyers interviews with writers whose work we were reading. I also distributed the piece on the Heath that appeared that quarter in the Chronicle of Higher Education, since we'd been discussing questions of canon and disciplinary debates. Bernice Zamora, whose work appears in the Heath, teaches at Santa Clara, and she graciously agreed to come to my class and read and discuss her poetry. It was a thrill for students to hear and see a living, lively, and very local writer whose work was in a textbook!

I'm enclosing copies of my syllabus, exams, and paper handouts. Let me say again how excited I was to see the new Heath and how pleased I was with it. I also appreciate your interest in faculty and student experiences with and recommendations for the anthology. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Required Texts:
Toni Morrison, Beloved (NAL/Penguin)
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (Dell)
Paul Lauter, et al., eds., The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume 2 (Heath)
R.V. Cassill, ed., Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (Norton)

Course Description:
In this course, we will explore new trends and voices in contemporary American literature (since 1960), focusing on short stories, novels, and poems. We will examine what these works reveal about contemporary life, America and Americans, and literature itself.

Course Requirements:
See schedule. So that we can have lively and informed class discussions, you are expected to complete each reading assignment before it is discussed in class and to participate actively in discussions.

You will be required to write and revise two essays: 1) one relatively short paper (2-4 typed pages), due about midquarter, on any one work we've read up to that point, 2) the other, a longer and more substantial final paper (about 5-8 typed pages), involving comparison and contrast of any two literary works we've read, or analysis of a work we haven't read from one of the two anthologies. To assist you in completing the final papers successfully, I will ask you to submit an outline or prospectus well in advance of the due date, and then to bring in a typed rough draft for discussion in peer revision groups and/or in conference with me at least a week before the final draft is due. For the shorter paper, conferences with me or work in peer groups will be available. l will provide you with a handout explaining these papers more fully later in the quarter. See schedule for due dates. You will also be required to write out one interesting question for class discussion on each text we read. Please keep these questions, along with any answers you may care to provide to some of them. l will collect them eventually, and I will call on students occasionally to ask their questions to the class.

There will be an in-class midterm exam and a take-home final essay exam (see schedule for dates).

Schedule of Readings, Papers, and Exams
Readings are listed for the day by which they should have been completed. In the Heath Anthology, be sure to read the brief introductions to each writer. This schedule, like any, may be subject to minor modifications.

Friday, Jan. 4: Introduction to course

Mon., 1/7: Heath Intro. to "Contemporary Period," pp. 1764-1785 John Updike, "Separating," pp. 2007-2016 in Heath

Wed., l/9: Bobbie Ann Mason, "Shiloh," pp. 2115-2126 in Heath

Fri., l/ll: Raymond Carver, "Where I'm Calling From," pp. 64-77 in Norton

Mon.,1/14: Tillie Olsen,"Tell Me A Riddle," pp. 1812-1840 in Heath

Wed., 1/16: Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," pp.1935-1947 in Heath

Fri., 1/18: Alice Walker, "Everyday Use," pp. 502-509 in Norton; Alice Walker's essay "In Search of our Mothers' Gardens" (handout)

Monday, Jan. 21: Holiday (Martin Luther King's Birthday) (I suggest you read King's "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop," pp. 1957-1969 in Heath)

Wed., 1/23: Toni Morrison, Beloved, pp. 1-73

Fri., 1/25: Beloved, pp. 74-134

Mon., 1/28: First Paper due; Beloved, pp. 135-217

Wed., l/30: Beloved, pp. 218-275 (end of novel)

Fri., Feb. l: Margaret Atwood, "Rape Fantasies," pp. 19-27 in Norton

Mon., 2/4: Midterm Exam (bring blue books and your texts)

Wed., 2/6: Robert Coover, "The Babysitter," pp. 78-99 in Norton

Fri., 2/8: Donald Barthelme, "The School," pp. 1979-1982 in Heath, and his "The Indian Uprising" pp. 37-42 in Norton

Mon., 2/11: N. Scott Momaday, from The Way to Rainy Mountain, pp. 2038-2048 and Leslie Marmon Silko, "Lullaby," pp. 2167-2174 in Heath

Wed., 2/13: Maxine Hong Kingston, "White Tigers," pp. 2094- 2115 in Heath

Fri., 2/15: Joyce Carol Oates, "How I Contemplated . . ." 355-367 in Heath

Mon., Feb. 18: Holiday (Presidents' Day)

Wed., 2/20: Recommended conferences this week to discuss final paper plans, Adrienne Rich, poems, pp. 2409-2424 in Heath

Thursday, February 21: Adrienne Rich Poetry Reading, 8:00 P.M., Engineering Bldg. Auditorium, San Jose State University (free)

Fri., 2/22: Sylvia Plath, poems, pp. 2430-2439 in Heath

Mon., 2/25: Bernice Zamora, poems, pp. 2491-2495, and Lorna Dee Cervantes, poems, pp. 2579-2585 in Heath, Plan/prospectus/outline of term paper due

Wed., 2/27: Sonia Sanchez, poems and misc., pp. 2440-2448, and Amiri Baraka, poems, pp. 2448-2454 in Heath

Fri., March I: Garrett Hongo, poems, pp. 2550-2562, and Janice Mirikitani, poems, pp. 2501-2509 in Heath

Mon, 3/4: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five, through p. 71; Rough drafts of term paper due (typed). Circulate to peer groups for reading and commenting on at home; you may also bring your draft in to discuss with me this week in conference

Wed., 3/6: Bring in classmates' papers with comments; spend part of class period in peer revision workshops; Slaughterhouse Five, pp. 72-135

Fri., 3/8: Slaughterhouse Five, pp. 136-215 (end of novel)

Mon., 3/11: Final Papers Due (you will need to hand in your rough drafts and outlines, too-all paper-clipped together

Finish discussion of Slaughterhouse Five

Wed., 3/13: Woody Allen's "The Kugelmass Episode," pp. 10-19

Friday, March 15: Last class
Distribute Take Home Final Exams

Contents, No. VIII