Syllabus # 1

English 370B: Survey of American Literature, 1865-
Spring 1992

Professor David Peck
California State University, Long Beach

Professor Peck writes:

One of the real advantages of the Heath Anthology is that it allows instructors to present ethnic writers--as Paul Lauter wrote in the feature article in the spring Newsletter--not as some alternative to `mainstream' writers, but as the warp and weft of the whole multiethnic fabric that is American literature.

In my English 370B this past spring--after a fairly conventional opening few weeks--in which students and teacher alike explored the possibilities of the HeathAnthology for the first time--we more and more began to break into groups for various class presentations. During the final weeks on contemporary prose and poetry, we would spend part of each class session discussing the writers I had chosen as representative of different genres, and part in our groups preparing our class presentations.

The advantage of this system is that it allowed students to concentrate on one group of writers, and to learn that literature in depth. At the same time, and as their generally spirited presentations made clear, we all became aware of how American literature is in fact the product of a number of different literatures. It was a useful arrangement of the material, and one that only the Heath Anthology allows us. I plan the same arrangement in the fall when I tackle the first volume of the Heath in 370A.

Schedule for April/May: contemporary literature

I. prose

Read all of the stories in A. below; select one of the six groups of stories in B. and read the four stories for a class report. (Group to decide on one work for whole class to read.)

A. for class discussion:

Richard Wright

Ralph Ellison

Michael Herr

Donald Barthelme

Flannery O'Connor

Bobbie Ann Mason

John Updike

B. groups:

1. women writers:

Toni Morrison

Joyce Carol Oates

Tillie Lerner Olsen

Alice Walker

2. male writers:

Saul Bellow

E. L. Doctorow

Norman Mailer

Thomas Pynchon

3. African American writers:

James Baldwin

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ernest J. Gaines

James Alan McPherson

4. Asian American writers:

Carlos Bulosan

Hisaye Yamamoto

John Okada

Maxine Hong Kingston

5. Chicano/Latino writers:

Nicholosa Mohr

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

Tomas Rivera

Aurora Levins Morales

6. Native American writers:

N. Scott Momaday

James Welch

Louise Erdrich

Leslie Marmon Silko

II. poetry

Read all the poets in A. (selections), and pick one of the groups in B. for a class report.

A. for class discussion

Theodore Roethke

Richard Wilbur

John Ashbery

Gary Snyder

Anne Sexton

Marge Piercy

John Berryman

James Dickey

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Elizabeth Bishop

Adrienne Rich

Carolyn Forché

Robert Lowell

Robert Creeley

Allen Ginsberg

Denise Levertov

Sylvia Plath

B. groups

1. African American women writers:

Gwendolyn Brooks

Mari Evans

Audre Lorde

Sonia Sanchez

2.African American men

Etheridge Knight

Jay Wright

Michael S. Harper

Amiri Baraka

Ishmael Reed

Robert Hayden

3. Chicano/Latino writers

Bernice Zamora

Tato Laviera

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Pedro Pietri

Victor Hernandez Cruz

Gary Soto

4. Native American writers:

Simon Ortiz

Wendy Rose

Roberta Hill Whiteman

Joy Harjo

5. Asian American writers:

Janice Mirikitani

Garrett Hongo

Cathy Song

Contents, No. IX