En 3321: American Literature Since 1865 Summer 2011 Course Description

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EN 3321: American Literature Since 1865

Summer 2011
Course Description:

The literature of the U.S. after 1865 is the literature that defines a country itself newly defined. This course examines, through roughly chronological thematic and aesthetic collections of texts, how the nation and its literature have developed as specifically American. The course will move through the significant developments in national life and literary production and will consider foundational and transformative works and authors as well as the diversity of voices that contributes to the U.S. and its literature. We will think about what might characterize American literature and the ideals, tensions, concerns, and contradictions of the national imagination between the definitive historical moments of the Civil War and 9/11—two events that have shaped American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, respectively.

Instructor Information:

Dr. Molly McKibbin

E-mail: mckibbin@yorku.ca

Office: TBA

Office Hours: Thursdays 6-7 p.m.

The Heath Anthology of American Literature 6th ed. vols. C, D, E

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Toni Morrison, Beloved


Three Close Readings (2 pages each): 10%

First Essay (4 pages): 10%

Midterm Test (100 mins./in class—passage identification, short answer): 20%

Second Essay (8 pages): 25%

Final Exam (3 hrs./exam period—passage identification, short answer, essay): 30%

Participation: 5%
Important Dates:

May 10: Close Reading #1 Due

May 24: Close Reading #2 Due

June 7: First Essay Due

June 16: Midterm Test

July 5: Last Day to Drop

July 5: Close Reading #3 Due

July 21: Second Essay Due

August 2-12: Exam Period
Assignment/Late/Extension Policies:

Close reading assignments will not be accepted after their respective due dates. Close reading assignments are due at the beginning of lecture. Essays submitted late will lose 2% per calendar day. Late essays must be e-mailed as Word documents and late penalties will be calculated according to the date the Word document is received and opened successfully. All essays must be submitted in hard copy by the next class. Only in cases of documented emergencies can the test or exam be written on a date other than what is scheduled. Because of the severely compressed schedule of the course, extensions for essays will be granted only in cases of documentable emergencies or severe personal circumstances (being terribly busy is understandable but unfortunately not an acceptable reason for an extension . . . so schedule accordingly!).
May 3: Introduction: Developing an American Literature

William Dean Howells, from Criticism and Fiction (C 241-43)

May 5: North/South and Black/White

Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby” (C 415-19)

Charles Waddell Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine” (C 124-32) and “The Wife of His Youth” (C 152-59)

Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask” (C 178) and “Sympathy” (C 180-81)

May 10: Realism

William Dean Howells, “Editha” (C 248-57)

Henry James, “The Jolly Corner” (Project Gutenberg online)

Ambrose Bierce, “Chickamauga” (C 343-47)

Edith Wharton, “Souls Belated” (D 1242-60)

**Close Reading #1 Due
May 12: Naturalism

Stephen Crane, “The Open Boat” (C 517-33) and “A Man Said to the Universe” (C 543)

Jack London, “South of the Slot” (C 546-56)

Theodore Dreiser, “The Second Choice” (D 1362-75)

May 17 & 19: Re-examining the Antebellum South

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

May 24: “The New Woman”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wall-paper” (C 673-85)

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “A New England Nun” and “The Revolt of ‘Mother’” (C 848-66)

Mary Austin, from Earth Horizon (C 1050-57)

**Close Reading #2 Due
May 26: The Melting Pot

Mary Antin, from The Promised Land (C 1068-74)

Zitkala-Ša (Gertrude Bonnin), from The School Days of an Indian Girl (C 1058-66)

Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far), “The Wisdom of the New” (C 966-79)

Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna), “A Half Caste” (C 981-86)
May 31 & June 2: The West

Willa Cather, My Ántonia

June 7: Modernism

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Recuerdo” and “[I, being born a woman]” (handout)

Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro” and “L’art, 1910” (D 1402)

William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow” (D 1471) and “The Poor” (D 1479)

T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (D 1583-86)

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), “The Helmsman” (D 1530-31) and “Helen” (D 1532)

Marianne Moore, “Poetry” (D 1655-66)

Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man” (D 1681) and “Of Modern Poetry” (D 1686)

Gertrude Stein, “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene” (D 1462-65)

e. e. cummings, “[the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls]” and “[i like my body when it is with your]” (D 1573-74)

**First Essay Due
June 9: The Harlem Renaissance

Alain Locke, “The New Negro” (D 1746-54)

Jean Toomer, from Cane [selections] (D 1756-63)

Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “I, Too,” “Harlem” (D 1774+), and “The Weary Blues” (D 1931-32); “Visitors to the Black Belt,” “Note on Commercial Theatre,” and “Democracy” (handout)

Claude McKay, “The Harlem Dancer,” “If We Must Die,” “The Lynching,” and “America” (D 1848-50)

Countee Cullen, “Incident,” “Yet Do I Marvel,” and “Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song” (D 1804+)

Zora Neale Hurston, “Sweat” (D 1831-39)
June 14: Race and Class Relations in the New South

William Faulkner, “Barn Burning” (D 1704-16)

Ralph Ellison, “A Party Down at the Square” and “Flying Home” (E 2382-99)

Richard Wright, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch” (D 2137-45)

June 16: The Southern Gothic

Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (E 2568-78)

Eudora Welty, “The Wide Net” (E 2279-93)

**Midterm Test (in class—everything up to and including June 14)
June 21: Traumas of WWII

John Okada, from No-No Boy (E 2534-44)

Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California,” “Howl,” and “America” (E 2581-93)

Cynthia Ozick, “The Shawl” (E 2653-55)

June 23 & 28: Cold War Paranoia

Arthur Miller, The Crucible (E 2404-77)

June 30: Civil Rights and After

Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” (E 2710-13)

Malcolm X, from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (E 2628-33)

James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” (E 2545-66)

Toni Cade Bambara, “The Lesson” (E 3061-66)

Amiri Baraka, “Black Art” (handout)

Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool,” “A Bronzeville Mother . . .” and “The Last Quatrain . . .” (E 2499-2504); “The White Troops Had Their Orders But the Negroes Looked Like Men,” “Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock,” and “kitchenette building” (handout)

Muriel Rukeyser, “Martin Luther King, Malcolm X” (E 2354)

July 5: Second and Third Wave Feminisms

Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck” and “Power” (E 2678+)

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus,” and “Stings” (E 2838-44)

June Jordan, “Poem about My Rights” (E 2978-80)

Audre Lorde, “Power,” “Stations,” and “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” (E 2892+)

Dorothy Allison, “Tell Me You Don’t Know” (E 3316-24)

**N.B. last date to drop without receiving a grade

**Close Reading #3 Due
July 7: Legacies of Colonial America

James Welch, from Winter in the Blood (E 3102-13)

Leslie Marmon Silko, “Lullaby” (E 3266-72)

D’Arcy McNickle, “Hard Riding” (D 2091-96)

Sherman Alexie, “Because My Father Always Said . . .” (E 3539-45)

Joy Harjo, “The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window,” “New Orleans,” “Anchorage,” and “Deer Dancer” (E 3393+)

July 12: Postmodernism

Donald Barthelme, “At the End of the Mechanical Age” (E 2814-18)

John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse” (E 2797-2812)

John Ashbery, “Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape” (E 2648-49)

Raymond Carver, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” (E 3014-22)

David Foster Wallace, “The Devil Is a Busy Man” (E 3528-30)

July 14: Immigrant, Second Generation, and Diasporic American Identities

Hisaye Yamamoto, “Seventeen Syllables” (E 2515-23)

Maxine Hong Kingston, “No Name Woman” (E 3125-33)

Gharati Mukherjee, “A Wife’s Story” (E 3115-24)

Edwidge Danticat, “New York Day Women” (E 3598-601)

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Ducks,” “My Father and the Figtree,” and “Blood” (E 3418+)

July 19: Voices from the “Borderlands”

Gloria Anzaldúa, “La conciencia de la mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness” (E 3173-84)

Helena María Viramontes, “The Cariboo Café” (E 3459-68)

Richard Rodriguez, from The Hunger of Memory (E 3221-25)

Sandra Cisneros, “Eleven” (E 3475-76)

Pat Mora, “Border Town: 1938,” “Unnatural Speech,” and “University Avenue” (E 3191-93)

July 21 & 26: Revisiting Slavery

Toni Morrison, Beloved

**Second Essay Due (July 21)
July 28: Responses to 9/11

Don DeLillo, from Falling Man (E 3594-95) and “In the Ruins of the Future” (E 3583-90)

David Simpson, “Telling It Like It Isn’t” (E 3592-93)

Michael Rothberg, “Seeing Terror, Feeling Art . . .” (E 3590-91)

Wai Chee Dimock, “Planet and America, Set and Subset” (E 3578-82)

Jean Baudrillard, from The Spirit of Terrorism (E 3574-78)

**Final Exam (TBA)

Close Reading Questions
Close readings allow students to practice their skills as critical readers in a short form (i.e. without having to write a formal essay). Responses should be concise and specific and should provide a detailed analytical reading of the literature. You may focus as you see fit, considering any aspect of form or style such as narrative voice, point of view, imagery, symbolism, use and choice of language, rhythm, structure, rhyme, etc.

Responses should be between one and two pages (double-spaced) in length and are due at the beginning of class. No late close reading assignments will be accepted. No Works Cited is necessary. Ensure you do not exceed the length maximum of two pages.

Please follow MLA guidelines (1" margins, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, double spacing). Double-sided printing is encouraged and preferred. No title pages, please; list identifying information at the top left of your first page.
#1: May 10

Choose, identify, and closely analyze a specific paragraph or short scene (no more than half a page) in Bierce’s story “Chickamauga.”

#2: May 24

Analyze the physical description(s) of the narrator’s bedroom and/or house in Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wall-paper” or analyze the description(s) of Austin’s house and/or neighbourhood in Earth Horizon.

#3: July 5

Provide an analysis of any one of Plath’s poems (from the syllabus).

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