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									                                 Survey of American Literature II, 1860-present
                                              ENGL 278, June 12 -- August 3, 2006
Brian Norman, Ph.D.                                     Course meetings: MTWTh 11:00 AM-12:15 PM; Room LA 327
normbria@isu.edu                                          Office hours: T W 9:00 – 10:45 AM & gladly by appointment
www.isu.edu/~normbria                                                   Office phone: (208) 282.4384 | Office: LA 155
Course Overview & Outcomes
American literature refers typically to a broad national tradition that comprises literature from a diverse set of
writers, groups, experiences, eras, political orientations, and historical contexts within the United States. This
introductory survey is an excellent opportunity for any student to become acquainted with some of the key
writers and historical contexts of U.S. literature since 1860. In doing so, this course will help you appreciate the
diversity and tension housed within—or excluded by—the idea of a national literary tradition. The course begins
in the Civil war period and emancipation; moves through Reconstruction, industrialization, and massive
immigration; explores the period between World War I and II and its attendant nationalism; addresses the
challenges of mid- to late century American social movements like Civil Rights and women’s liberation; and
opens out to the tremendous diversity of literary voices and experiences in the present. Within this historical
context, we will encounter writers and literary movements that represent some of the dominant trends in
American literature of the period: American realism, regionalism, the Harlem Renaissance, modernism,
postmodernism, confessional poetry, Black Arts, etc. This period witnesses the rise of the democratic nation-
state and imperial structures; a rapidly expanding world view with increased mobility; acknowledgment of
cultural, class, and gender differences; and the prospect of world war and annihilation. All this leads to exciting
questions about the relationship between literature and society. In response, we can trace an explosion in new
literary techniques, subjects, and forms, including important works by authors from a variety of backgrounds
previously underrepresented in literature and literary studies.
I chose short-ish texts, excerpts, and representations of major developments so that we can get as broad an
overview as possible. As an added bonus, I hope you’ll also enjoy many of these selections! I am requiring no
outside research to keep our attention on the primary literature. We will begin and end the course by asking how
we might construct a specifically American literary tradition. Your goal for the course should be to develop an
appreciation of the period so that you can make informed and independent contributions to our discussions about
the idea of American literature.
Specific learning objectives are threefold:
      1. Through class sessions and readings, become familiar with some of the key writers and dominant
           literary moments/movements of the period;
      2. Through journals and class discussions, demonstrate an ability to analyze representative American
           literary texts, especially as related to their historical, cultural, literary, and biographical context
      3. Through a series of three essays, draw on class discussions and journals to demonstrate an ability to
           analyze individual texts to question and evaluate the relationship between individual writers and
           American literary and cultural traditions.

Course Texts
  The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volumes C-E, Sixth Edition [2003]
  The Souls of Black Folk, W E B DuBois [1903]
  The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison [1970]

Required Work (descriptions and evaluation criteria follow)
   Short essay on one writer’s relationship to the national tradition (4 pages, due week 3) – 15%
   Short essay on selecting a national tradition [DuBois & ___] (4 pages, due week 5) – 15%
   Longer essay on identity and the national tradition [Morrison & _____] (5-7 pages, due week 8) – 30%
   Reading journals (due weeks 1, 2, 4, 6 [beginning of Thursday class]) – 20%
   Final Examination – 15%
   Homework, attendance, participation – 5%

Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)     ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                              Brian Norman
Syllabus                                                                                                        1 of 2
Some Miscellaneous Policies and Decorum

Absences: There is no such thing as an excused absence. Per departmental guidelines, after four absences you
risk failure. Spend your absences wisely, if at all. Consistent tardiness or ill preparation can also affect your
grade. Of course, consistent attendance, preparation, and participation will help your grade both directly and
indirectly. If you are going to be absent, it is your responsibility to turn in any work that is due and to contact a
class mate for class notes and homework assignments. Late penalties apply in all circumstances.
Participation: In addition to being prepared for class each day (i.e. having done the reading and/or homework
assignments), I expect you to participate fully in class discussions. This will help us to create a dynamic
exchange of informed and (hopefully) diverse ideas about and responses to the readings. Plus, I guarantee that
sustained engagement with the texts will increase your enjoyment of the class, and your performance. You can
expect me and your classmates to listen to—and engage—your ideas with respect and rigor.
Late Work: Late homework will not be accepted. Late papers will lose a full letter grade if turned in by one
week from the due date; after one week, late papers will not be accepted for credit unless prior permission has
been granted. If you are running into problems completing an assignment, talk to me before it is due.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plus, it ruins your grade and your intellect. Consequences for
plagiarism are case-specific, but may range from a lowered grade on the assignment to failure of the course.
Give credit to the sources of ideas and/or wording in your papers. This will help you highlight and take credit
for your own thinking, too! Remember, resources are there to help you develop/sharpen your own ideas.
Resources: I am available to meet with you outside class during office hours, or at other times—if you schedule
an appointment with me enough in advance. In addition, I encourage you to exchange contact information with
your classmates, take advantage of the excellent librarians at Eli Oboler Library, and start your research/writing
early so that we can effectively solve any problems that might arise.
Paper style: Your three essays must be typed, double-spaced, have one inch margins, and use 12-point regular
font (e.g. times new roman). No trickery—I can tell! Also use MLA style for internal citations. Unfamiliar with
MLA style? No problem! Come by during office hours and I can deliver a five minute crash course.

A Note on the Course Texts

Many of these texts, true to the penchant of American literature to question and push against social custom,
contain material that is potentially offensive or disturbing to some, including: explicit discussions of sexuality,
use of profane language, frank discussions of racism and violence with use of racist language, misogyny and
depictions of domestic abuse, exploitation of the working classes, and anti-governmental protest, to name a few.
You will often have some choice regarding which specific readings your essays concern, though you are
required to read all assigned texts and participate in all class discussions.




Message from ADA Disabilities & Resources Center: Our program is committed to helping all students achieve
their potentials. If you have a diagnosed disability or think you have a disability (physical, learning disability,
hearing, vision, psychiatric) which may need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the ADA Disabilities &
Resource Center located in Graveley Hall, Room 123, 282-3599 as early as possible.




Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)   ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                            Brian Norman
Syllabus                                                                                                    2 of 2
READING AND ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE

Unit 1: Where to begin? Who to include?
[recommended reading: NALA, volume C: The Transformation of a Nation]

A. Before and After the Civil War
6/12: Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855), ―Crossing Brooklyn Ferry‖ [1856, 1881], ―Once I Pass’d through a Populous
          City‖ [1860, 1867], ―Facing West from California’s Shores‖ (1860, 1867)
6/13: Whitman, ―Song of Myself‖ (1855), lines 1-195 & ―Song of Myself‖ (1881), Parts 1-8, plus two more of your choice
6/14: Emily Dickinson, poems 67, 185, 199, 315, 465, 709, 712, 1732, plus two more of your choice, letter to TW Higginson (1862)

B. American Literature Beyond the U.S.: Native American Oratory and Oral Cultures
6/15: Charlot, ―[He has filled graves with our bones]‖ (1876)

Unit 2: American Literature as an Aesthetic Tradition, a Women Writers Tradition, a National Tradition, (2.5 weeks)
[recommended reading: NALA, volume C: Literary Marketplace, Forms of Realism, Regional Writing]

A. The Idea of American Literature—Citizenship, Regionalism, and America in the World
6/15: Jewett, ―The Foreigner‖
6/19: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), chapters 1- 3, 8,
6/20: Twain, Huck Finn, 21-24, 43 & ―How to Tell a Story‖ (1895)
6/21: Henry James, ―Daisy Miller: A Study,‖ parts I-III (1879)

A. Women in the New Century
6/22: James, ―Daisy Miller,‖ part IV & Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899), chapters I-II
6/26: Chopin, The Awakening, chapters III-XX
6/27: Chopin, The Awakening, chapters XXI-XXXII
6/28: Chopin, The Awakening, chapters XXIII-XXIX & Zitkala Ša, ―The School Days of an Indian Girl‖ (1900)

B. Race, Ethnicity, and Reconstruction
6/29: Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman), From the Deep Woods, chapter VII: ―The Ghost Dance War‖ (1916)
          Chippewa Songs (your choice of two)
          Ghost Dance Songs (your choice of two)
          N. Scott Momday, The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), introduction and one chapter of your choice
7/ 3: Charles Chestnutt, ―The Goophered Grapevine‖ (1887, 1899)
          Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, chapter of your choice (I, II, XIV, or XV)
          W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), forethought, chapter 1, plus your choice of one chapter in & one not in NALA

                             Paper One due Wednesday, July 5 (One writer’s relationship to the nation)

Unit 3: Some Twenteith Century “isms” (2 weeks)
[recommended reading: NALA, volume D: Two Wars as Historical Markers, African Americans, American Versions of Modernism]

A. American Modernism
7/5:     Willa Cather, ―The Sculptor’s Funeral‖ (1905)
         Robert Frost, ―Home Burial‖ (1914) & ―Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening‖ (1923)
         William Carlos Williams, ―The Red Wheelbarrow‖ (1923) & ―A Sort of a Song‖ (1944)
         William Faulkner, ―Barn Burning‖ (1938)
7/6:     Gertrude Stein, selection from ―Tender Buttons‖ – ―Objects‖ (1914)
         H.D., ―Oread‖ (1914)
         Amy Lowell, ―The Captured Goddess‖ (1914) & ―Venus Transiens‖ (1919)
         Wallace Stevens, ―Anecdote of the Jar‖ (1923)
         e.e. cummings, ―O sweet spontaneous‖ (1920, 1923) & ―i sing of Olaf glad and big‖ (1931)
         Ezra Pound, ―In a Station of the Metro‖ (1913)
         T.S. Eliot, ―‖The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock‖ (1915) & selection from ―Tradition and the Individual Talent‖ (1919, 1920)
7/10:    Claude McKay, ―The Harlem Dancer‖ (1917) & ―The Lynching‖ (1919) & ―America‖ (1921)
         Zora Neale Hurston, ―How it Feels to Be Colored Me‖ (1928)
         Jean Toomer, selections from Cane: ―Georgia Dusk‖ and ―Portrait in Georgia‖ (1923)

Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)         ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                                      Brian Norman
Schedule                                                                                                                    1 of 2
         Langston Hughes, ―Song for a Dark Girl‖ (1927), ―I, Too‖ (1932), ―Refugee in America‖ (1947), ―Madam & Her Madam‖ (1949)
         Countee Cullen, ―Heritage‖ (1925)

B. American Postmodernism
7/11: Thomas Pynchon, ―Entropy‖ (1984)
          John Ashberry, ―Myrtle‖ (1996)
          Jorie Graham, ―The Dream of a Unified Field‖ (1995)
7/12: Gloria Anzaldúa, ―How to Tame a Wild Tongue‖ (1987)
          Maxine Hong Kingston, ―Trip Master Monkey‖ (1989)

C. Social Realism and Regionalism
7/13: John Steinbeck, selection from The Grapes of Wrath (1939), chapter 11
          Flannery O’Connor, ―The Life You Save Could Be Your Own‖ (1955)
7/17: Richard Wright, ―The Man Who Was Almost a Man‖ (1939, 1961)

                     Paper Two due Thursday, July 20: (Selecting DuBois for an American literary tradition)

Unit 4: What is American literature? (Where to end? Who to include?) (2.5 weeks)

A. Personal Literature, Public Audience
7/17: Audre Lorde, ―Black Mother Woman‖ (1971)
         Gwendolyn Brooks, ―the mother‖ (1945)
7/18: Theodore Roethke, ―My Papa’s Waltz‖ (1948)
         Adrienne Rich, ―Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law‖ (1963)
         Sylvia Plath, ―Daddy,‖ (1966) ―Lady Lazarus,‖ (1966) and ―The Applicant‖ (1965)

B. Black Literature, White Literature
7/19: Gwendolyn Brooks, ―We Real Cool‖ (1960) and ―A Bronzeville Mother Loiters…‖(1960)
          Alice Walker, ―Everyday Use‖ (1973)
7/20: James Baldwin, ―Going to Meet the Man‖ (1965)
          LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, ―An Agony. As Now.‖ (1964)
          Rita Dove, ―Rosa‖ (2000)
7/24: Suzan-Lori Parks, ―The America Play‖ (1991)
7/25: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970), 3-58
7/26: Morrison, Bluest, 59-131
7/27: Morrison, Bluest, 132-206

C. Grab Bag
[recommended reading: NALA, volume E: Writers and Their Work]

7/31: Eudora Welty, ―Petrified Man‖ (1941)
           Grace Paley, ―A Conversation with My Father‖ (1974)
           Raymond Carver, ―Cathedral‖ (1983)
8/1: Joy Harjo, ―Call it Fear‖ (1983)
           Li-Young Lee, ―Eating Alone‖ (1986) & ―Eating Together‖ (1986)
           Sandra Cisneros, ―Barbie-Q‖ (1991)
           One more poem or short story of your choice
8/2: Allen Ginsberg, ―Howl‖ (1956)


                               Paper Three due Tuesday, August 1 (Identity and American literature)

                                                  Final Examination: Thursday, August 3




Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)          ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                               Brian Norman
Schedule                                                                                                              2 of 2
ASSIGNMENT DESCRIPTIONS AND EVALUATION CRITERIA
Short Essay #1: One Writer’s Relation to the National Tradition (Your choice of writer)
       4 pages, due week 3 (Wednesday, July 5), 15% of final grade
How and why does an individual author consciously engage an American literary tradition, or choose not to? For this
assignment, I am asking you to explore the relationship between one writer and the American nation. Drawing from
your skills of literary analysis and your knowledge about historical context, you will put forward a thesis about what
image of America we find in one of the writer’s text. Individual writers and texts will vary greatly in their relationship
to and image of the nation, but some questions you might ask include: Does the author seem conscious of entering (or
rejecting) an American literary tradition that has come before? Does the image of America deliver by the author seem
to engage key social or political events of the day, or does it turn away from them? Is the America imaged by the
author inclusive of the variety of people in the United States, or does it seem to exclude some? What locations in
America seem most important to the text, and why? Does the author seem to speak primarily from personal
experience, or from others’ experiences? What do we gain and what do we lose by talking about an individual author
as belonging to a national tradition? You may choose a text by any author we have read as a class through 6/28.
Short Essay #2: Selecting a National Tradition (Three groupings for DuBois)
       4 pages, due week 5 (Thursday, July 20), 15% of final grade
When we select which texts will represent an American tradition, how does that choice shape how we read individual
American writers or texts? For this assignment, I am asking you to consider how your analysis of one essay by
W.E.B. DuBois included in our class anthology is impacted by three different possible literary contexts: as a stand
alone essay, in conjunction with another essay in Souls of Black Folk not included in the anthology, and alongside an
entry by another writer included in the anthology. You have the choice of which DuBois essays you will discuss. For
the third text grouping, you must choose an entry in the anthology that we have read as a class between 6/29 and 7/17.

Your paper should put forward a general thesis about placing DuBois in a national tradition, which should happen in
the introductory paragraph. In the body of the paper, you will illustrate how each of the three possible text groupings
affects your analysis of the DuBois essay, perhaps in three different sections or all at once. What themes, images,
ideas, or formal aspects of the essay seem especially relevant when placed in each text grouping? The general thesis
is flexible, but some suggestions include: identify a pitfall of choosing representative texts, put forward an idea about
how anthologies work in constructing a national tradition, make a claim about the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of
the Norton editor’s choice of which DuBois essays to include in the anthology, suggest why another writer should end
up alongside DuBois’ entry, or perhaps question the very idea of an anthology of national literature.

Longer Essay: Identity and American Literature
       5-7 pages, due week 8 (Tuesday, August 1), 30% of final grade
Does American literature have a social identity? In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison uses the Dick and Jane primers
prevalent in the 1940s-1970s to frame her story about a young, poor, black, thoroughly abused girl with a desperate
wish for the ultimate badge of whiteness. In doing so, Morrison challenges us to think about social identity and
American literature, especially literature’s power to create an inclusive or exclusive vision of society, or to represent
and validate the experiences of specific groups. For this assignment, I am asking you to take some of the concerns
about identity and representation from Morrison’s novel to American literature in the twentieth century.

Your paper will look at one (or more) other text from the American twentieth century and interpret it through the lens
of one or some of the characters in The Bluest Eye. Your paper should put forward a thesis about identity and
American literature, then anchor that claim in extended analysis of passages from The Bluest Eye and your chosen
text(s) from Units 3 and/or 4. You might write the paper in your own voice, or for a more creative option, perhaps in
the voice(s) of the characters whose perspective you are inhabiting (similar to Morrison’s style in the novel). Some
questions you might consider include: Do any of the texts from the century seem to live up to Claudia’s desire to
value Pecola and her baby? Do any of the texts from the century seem to confirm Mrs. Breedlove’s experience with
American cinema? If Pecola read a certain text from the century would she still have desired the bluest eye? Do any
of the texts from the century provide alternate explanations for what happens to the Breedloves? If Claudia found
herself in the world of another text from the century, how would she react? Do characters like Cholly or George or
Maureen or Soaphead Church or Geraldine appear in other texts from the century? Do any texts from the century
explicitly make room for, or explicitly exclude, someone like Pecola?

Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)   ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                               Brian Norman
Assignment Descriptions and Evaluation Criteria                                                                1 of 2
Evaluation Criteria
Your essays will be evaluated using the following criteria, all equally weighted:
    Overall coherent project, which includes an independent argument that is relevant to the individual essay
        question. ―C‖ and low ―B‖ papers map an independent idea onto the text(s) (or vice versa); high ―B‖ and ―A‖
        papers use the text to complicate and even question the general idea/thesis. All paragraphs are related to each
        other in ―C‖ and low ―B‖ papers, high ―B‖ and ―A‖ papers place paragraphs in a logical, forward-moving
        argument where ideas from later paragraphs build on ideas from previous paragraphs. The difference
        between a ―B‖ and ―A‖ level argument lies in the complexity or level of sophistication of the idea (the
        gymnastics model of scoring difficulty).
    Textual engagement with (―close reading‖) specific moments in the primary text(s) (at least one) that help
        you support, explore, substantiate, and complicate your general ideas. For each primary text you discuss,
        you should employ enough quotations as textual evidence and analysis to illustrate and complicate your
        argument. ―C‖ and low ―B‖ papers use quotations to ground ideas in the text, high ―B‖ and ―A‖ papers use
        textual analysis to both support and complicate the paper’s ideas/assertions. A good rule of thumb: for every
        line of text you quote, you should discuss (or ―unpack‖) it for at least three lines. Quote only what you
        discuss and unpack the images, word choice, ideas, tone, place in the narrative, etc. at length.
    Engagement with American literature themes, concerns, trends, movements, etc. Your thesis, primary text
        discussions, and overall project should explicitly address one or more of the general themes, concerns, or
        movements associated with American literature, especially those we discuss in class or detailed in the
        headnotes from the Norton anthology. ―C‖ papers will implicitly mention some of these themes/concerns and
        suggest that they are apparent in the texts. ―B‖ papers will explicitly identify some of these themes/concerns
        through analysis of the primary text, and this work will impact the overall thesis. ―A‖ papers will do the work
        of ―B‖ papers, but also suggest how the primary text(s) might push against or in some way complicate the
        general trend, theme, concern, movement of American literature.

Reading Journals – 20% of final grade, (due weeks 1, 2, 4, and 6)
Your reading journals provide a structured opportunity to spend some time with specific texts, questions, themes, etc.
that interest you while doing class reading. Journals are graded solely on the basis of length, so use this as an
opportunity to work through the text and your independent ideas without worrying about developing a polished thesis.
I will read the journals, but my comments will be minimal. Some ideas for journal entries: If a passage from one of
the readings is particularly perplexing, moving, or angering, unpack that passage to figure out how it works. If you
are excited by a connection you see between two texts, describe it and unpack a moment from each to figure out how
far you can take that connection. If a general movement or trend in American literature discussed in class doesn’t
make sense to you, describe what you know about the movement/trend and try it on for size with one of the texts for
that week. If you have a strong personal reaction to one of the texts, describe that response and unpack a passage or
two to figure out if the author solicits that reaction from the reader and why.

Journals should be single-spaced (to save paper). You will turn them in on Thursday during weeks 1, 2, 4, and 6
For a “D”: two typed pages per week (or equivalent), with no direct textual engagement
For a “C”: two typed pages per week (or equivalent), with direct textual engagement
For a “B”: three typed pages per week (or equivalent), with direct textual engagement
For an “A”: four typed pages per week (or equivalent), with direct textual engagement

Final examination: Who can speak for America in literature? (August 3) – 15% of final grade
Your final examination will be some sort of essay or oral format to demonstrate your comprehension and analysis of
American literature writ large. You will be asked to comment on the question of who can speak for America in
literature by turning to specific texts we have covered to explain your reasoning with illustrative moments. The
selections by Whitman and Ginsberg will be prominent texts in this exercise. The class will have a good deal of input
on the content, format, and criteria of this final examination.

Homework, attendance, participation – 5% of final grade
I will keep attendance, evaluate the quality and quantity of your participation in class discussions, and keep track of
your satisfactory completion of any homework assigned by me or a fellow student.

Survey of American Literature II (1860-present)   ENGL 278 | Summer 2006                              Brian Norman
Assignment Descriptions and Evaluation Criteria                                                               2 of 2

								
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