English 222: American Literature
Professor Annette Bennington McElhiney
In this course, we will study American literature beginning with the period immediately before the Civil War and ending in the 1980's. We will look at the conditions and events that impact the writing of literature as well as the works themselves. Students will read a combination of short stories, poems, novels and plays written by both men and women from all backgrounds including European American, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American etc. Even though the course will be structured chronologically, the readings will be grouped according to representational voices of a specific group or period.
This course will:
1. provide students with an opportunity to learn to read well a select number of American writers from diverse backgrounds and to understand how historical events or conditions both provoked and impacted what they wrote
2. assist students in developing their ability to see how an author's use of characterization, setting, point of view, image patterns, etc. convey a certain meaning in the various genres
3. encourage students to read a fictional work carefully and thoroughly and to express their interpretations both orally and through their writing
4. assist students in appreciating a variety of genres: short stories, poetry, and novels, as well as various styles of writing
5. make students aware that reality differs for different American voices/writers as a result of their race, class and gender
6. show students how socialization of the reader (exposure to or lack of knowledge, values, attitudes and beliefs) may impact her/his reaction to or ability to make meaning out of literature
As Plutarch said:
"The mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled."
Consequently, students are expected not only to read the material and listen to class discussions, but also to contribute to discussions and engage intellectually with questions raised and ideas discussed in class.
The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Volume 2 Edited by
You should bring your text to class each day and be prepared to respond on the assigned material either in discussion or in writing.
INTRODUCTION TO COURSE
INTRODUCTION OF PARTICIPANTS
REVIEW OF INTERPRETATION OF LITERATURE
INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN LITERATURE
FREEMAN 125-138 & 148-159
AFRICAN AMERICAN FOLKTALES 192-214
CLEMENS 214-217 & 309 - 322
JAMES 548-551 & 597-626
CHOPIN 626-632 & 635-637
CRANE 689-691 & 697-710
ISSUES OF POST-CIVIL WAR PERIOD 739-745
DU BOIS 782-798
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 851-877
TOWARD MODERNISM 961-962
E.A. ROBINSON 962-972
WHARTON 985-986 & 987-100
ALIENATION & EXPERIMENTATION 1163-1164
HARLEM RENNAISSANCE 1456-146
ISSUES AND VISIONS IN MODERN AMERICA
FURTHER EXPLORATIONS OF AMERICAN SELF
MOURNING DOVE 1728-1725
CHINESE IMMIGRANT 1755-1762
AMERICAN LITERATURE RESEARCH PAPER ASSIGNMENT
Pick two authors, one from each of the following lists:
Using only the selections that we have read and discussed in class, compare the two writers on the following points:
1. Biographical backgrounds as Americans
2. Their selection and treatment of similar traditional American subjects or themes
3. The general response of critics to the work of each
Try to compare a poet with a poet, a short story writer with a short story writer etc. biographical information can either be obtained from the text or from library sources. Be certain to document where you took the information from in an in-text note (Heath Anthology, Vol. II, p. 334) and then include a short alphabetized bibliography at the end. Possible subjects or themes that writers in both lists could be compared on are: freedom, death, the role of nature, alienation, search for self-identity, male/female relationships, parent/child relationships, attitudes toward religion, attitudes toward rural/urban, attitudes toward work, sense of community vs. individualism, hypocrisy vs. sincerity, and/or other themes we have mentioned in class. Critical responses to the work of the authors may either be great or nonexistent depending upon the authors. In nontraditional writers, most of the critical information may be book reviews or journal articles. In the library session, you will learn how to find this information.
If you read a nontraditional author that you like but I do not have on the list, please check with me to see if you can add him/her. My only objection will be based on whether or not I have read the author (if you are selecting a longer piece) or if you can attach a short work to your paper.
Good luck and have fun!