Instructor: Robert M. Hogge
Institution: Weber State University
Catalog Course Title: American Literature: Civil War to 1900
Abstract: The primary purpose of this course is to introduce
students to the literary movements of realism and
naturalism by (1) in-depth discussion of the literature of
assigned authors and (2) student reports, accompanied by
written analyses, of other important authors not assigned in
the course outline. By using this two-pronged approach, an
instructor can (1) teach the "canon" authors; (2) highlight
undervalued women authors; and (3) broaden the canon by
exposing students, many for the first time, to the important
writings of Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican
Americans, and Americans of Chinese ancestry.
This course serves as an introduction to American
Literature from the Civil War to 1900. The course has
approximately 30 students in it (mostly juniors and
seniors) and is run mostly in a discussion format.
Texts and Bibliography:
a. Texts: Lauter, et. al., Heath Anthology of American
Literature, Volume II
b. Additional Readings: Excerpts from Walt Whitman's
Song of Myself; selected poems of Emily Dickinson; Mark
Twain's "A Medieval Romance"; selections from
the Fantastic Fables of Ambrose Bierce; and excerpts
from Joel Chandler Harris, Artemus Ward, Petroleum
V. Nasby, and Bill Nye.
c. Bibliography: Wayne C. Booth's The Rhetoric of
Fiction; Eugene Current-Garcia and Walton R. Patrick's
Realism and Romanticism in Fiction; and Edward Stone's
What Was Naturalism?
General Writing and Pedagogy:
Throughout this course students
are required to write a daily journal in which they respond to
each author studied. At the end of the course, they
submit the "best" of the journal (3 typed pages). In
addition, students are required to write a creative
essay (2-3 pages), a critical analysis (2-3 pages), and a term
paper based on guidelines from the D.C. Heath American
Literature Student Essay Contest (4-5 pages). Students
present an oral report, complete several in-class writing
assignments, and do some collaborative work, reviewing
each other's papers. And they take two unannounced quizzes
and a final examination.
Readings, Pedagogy, and Annotations:
Unit #1; 1 class session.
Readings for Unit #1: Excerpts from Walt Whitman's Song
of Myself and selected poems of Emily Dickinson (handout)
Annotation for Unit #1: I like to begin the course with
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, two poets the students
are usually enthusiastic about. In addition to discussing the
major themes of each writer, I like to have students point
out differences in poetic technique, asking them if these
differences might be related to gender. I also give
students "Literary History of the United States:
Beginnings to 1910," a handout that places this course in
its historical and literary context.
Writing and Pedagogy for Unit #1: No writing assignments
or exercises in this unit.
Unit #2; 2 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #2: Sarah Orne Jewett's "A White Heron"
and "A Foreigner"; Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's "A Church
Mouse," "The Revolt of 'Mother,'" and "Old Woman Magoun"
Annotation for Unit #2: I like to discuss these two
writers together, pointing out how they were once
acknowledged as significant writers of their period
(particularly during the Howells era), but then later
received less attention from publishers, writers of
anthologies, and teachers.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #2: The teaching approach
initially is historical and biographical. Then the
students are asked to discuss the selections to see in what
ways they conform to or depart from expected styles of
writing. Particular emphasis is given to the subtle
artistry of "A White Heron." Students write journal
entries on Jewett and Freeman. I collect the entry on
Jewett and prepare a handout, "Sarah Orne Jewett:
Excerpts from Students' Journals," as a way of teaching
how students can use the daily journal to think about
an author's ideas, themes, or style of writing.
Unit #3; 6 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #3: Mark Twain's The Gilded Age
(Chapters 27 & 28), "A True Story," Old Times on the
Mississippi (Chapters I & II), Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, and "The War Prayer" (Heath)
Annotation for Unit #3: I like to begin by emphasizing
Mark Twain's importance in both history and literature.
The shorter selections in the anthology reveal Twain as
an expert on riverboat life, a consummate storyteller,
and an adept social critic of America's values and
preoccupations. In Huck Finn students discover how Twain is
a literary craftsman who is able to bring to life the
people, culture, and values of pre-Civil War Missouri. I
like to also add to the class discussion excerpts from
Roughing It and Letters From the Earth. And I begin the
discussion of Huck Finn by sharing with the students the
ending of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a good way to get
them to discuss Twain's evolving style and his increasing
level of sophistication and complexity in the later novel.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #3. Students write 5 separate
journal entries on Twain, with particular emphasis on Huck
Finn. And students write a creative essay which usually
is a parody of Twain's style or an extra episode they would
like to insert into Huck Finn.
Unit #4; 2 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #4: William Dean Howells' excerpts from
Suburban Sketches, The Rise of Silas Latham, The Editor's
Study, Criticism and Fiction, along with "Editha" and
"Editor's Easy Chair"; Henry James' excerpt from
"Hawthorne," plus Daisy Miller: A Study and "The Beast in
the Jungle" (Heath)
Annotation for Unit #4: I emphasize with students the
essential elements of psychological realism, particularly
in the selections from Henry James, and discuss with them the
central position of Howells and James and their role in
institutionalizing literary realism in America.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #4: Students write journal
entries on Howells and James and watch a videotape of the
life of Henry James.
Unit #5: 2 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #5: Kate Chopin's "Desiree's Baby," "A
Respectable Woman," "The Story of an Hour," "Lilacs," "A
Pair of Silk Stockings," and "The Storm" (Heath)
Annotation for Unit #5: In this unit, I like the students
to discover for themselves the major themes and motifs
in Kate Chopin's fiction. To help them, I provide some
biographical and historical information, and I show them
one way to read "Desiree's Baby" closely. Then I ask them
to search-out additional important concepts in the stories
and sketches not discussed in class.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #5: Students write a journal
entry on Chopin. They also write a critical analysis
(using feminist, psychological, or formalist approaches)
of Chopin's short fiction.
Unit #6; 4 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #6: Ambrose Bierce's "Chicamauga";
Hamlin Garland's "Up the Coule"; Stephen Crane's "A Mystery
of Heroism," "The Open Boat," "The Bride Comes to Yellow
Sky," and selected poems; and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's
"The Yellow Wall-Paper" and a chapter from Herland
Annotation for Unit #6: The focus in this unit is the
shift from realism to naturalism in fiction. To help the
students conceptualize that shift more dramatically, I provide
a handout, "What Is Naturalism," to generate class
discussion of Bierce, Garland, and Crane.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #6: Students write journal
entries on Bierce, Garland, Crane, and Gilman. And they
write a term paper based on guidelines stated in the D. C.
Heath American Literature Student Essay Contest.
Unit #7; 2 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #7: Henry Adams' excerpts from Mont-
Saint Michel and Chartres and The Education of Henry Adams;
Booker T. Washington's chapters from Up From Slavery (Heath)
Annotation for Unit #7: The emphasis in this unit is to
help students prepare for the major ideas and themes that
will be explored, in great detail, in the next course,
"The Modern Period," particularly Adams' concepts of the
modern technological world and Washington's writings which
will either be added upon or refuted by members of
The Harlem Renaissance.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #7: Students write journal
entries on Adams and Washington.
Unit #8; 3 class sessions.
Readings for Unit #8: Each student is assigned to read
the selections of a specific author who has not yet been
discussed in this class.
Annotation for Unit #8: Since a primary goal of this
class is to help students become aware of different voices
in literature (undervalued women writers and writers
from ethnic minorities), I assign students an author
to report on to the other members of the class. In this way,
the students can at least be introduced to many of the
lesser known or less appreciated writers.
Writing & Pedagogy for Unit #8: Each student will write a
brief report on an assigned author, specifically
explaining (when possible) each of these areas: (1) key
autobiographical details; (2) most important
publications; (3) major contributions to the period [Civil War
to 1900]); (4) critical reception; and (5) important
literary themes, techniques, or innovations. Then each
student will present a 5-10 minute oral report on the assinged author.
This page was prepared by Audrey Mickahail at the Center for Electronic Projects in American Culture Studies (CEPACS), housed at Georgetown University, under the direction of Randy Bass, Department of English.