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ENG 209: Survey of American Literature

Course Description

This course is a survey of American literature over the last century, beginning with the Modernist period and the first World War. Through readings of fiction, poetry, drama, and essays, students will be introduced to major authors and significant movements in American literary history. Authors will be selected from a variety of cultural traditions in the United States. As the course moves into later readings, there will be a consideration of how individual authors respond to and diverge from the traditions and influence of those who came before. Throughout, the identification of what is specifically “American” about American literature will be a central focus.

Prerequisites

  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • ENG 102: English Composition 2

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Read American literature carefully and demonstrate comprehension through identification of and commentary on details, tone, audience, distinguishing features and cultural assumptions.
  2. Identify, describe and compare the characteristics and dominant themes of major movements and schools within American literature since 1900 and of significant authors in that time.
  3. Identify the contributions made to American literature by women and discuss this work in the context of specific social and cultural contexts.
  4. Identify the contributions made to American literature by members of a variety of cultural traditions and discuss this work in the context of specific social and cultural contexts.
  5. Respond to prompts in written English that is clear and mechanically sound.
  6. Synthesize original arguments about the meaning and form of literary texts supported with evidence from the readings and supplementary research.
  7. Draw conclusions about American literature, culture and history from the readings.
  8. Reflect on and revise previous assumptions about American literature and history.
  9. Access, evaluate and employ research sources for literary study.
  10. Compare and contrast texts by different authors and from different points in American literary history to draw original conclusions about theme, focus, tone, voice and other literary qualities.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Assignments

Weight

Discussions (Weeks 1-8)

32%

Response Papers (Weeks 1-6)

18%

Research Paper (Week 7)

25%

Final Exam (Week 8)

25%

Total

100%

Required Textbook (Available through Charter Oak’s online bookstore):

  • Levine, Robert S. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Volumes C, D & E. ISBN-13: 9780393264555

    Note: This package is less expensive than purchasing two individual volumes. Although no readings from Volume C are explicitly assigned in this class, you are encouraged to use selections from the text to provide additional context and comparisons in your discussions and writing assignments. Feel free to contact your instructor with questions about this.

Supplemental Reading

  • Levine, Robert S. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Volumes C. ISBN-13: 9780393264555

Course Schedule

Week

SLOs

Readings and Exercises

Assignments

1

1-3,5-7

Topic: Modernist American Poetry

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume D
      • Robert Frost (page 218), “Mending Wall,” “Home Burial,” “The Road Not Taken,” “Birches,” “Out, Out--,” and “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”
      • Wallace Stevens (page 269), “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
      • William Carlos Williams (page 281), “Spring and All,” “The Red Wheelbarrow,” and “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”
      • Ezra Pound (page 293), “In a Station of the Metro,” “The River Merchant’s Wife,” and “Canto I”
      • H.D. (page 330), all selections
      • T. S. Eliot (page 352), “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “The Waste Land”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

2

1,2,5-7

Topic: Modernist American Fiction

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume D
      • Sherwood Anderson (page 251), all selections
      • F. Scott Fitzgerald (page 629), “Babylon Revisited”
      • William Faulkner (page 666), “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning”
      • Ernest Hemingway (page 795), “Hills Like White Elephants”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

3

1-7

Topics: The Harlem Renaissance and African-American Voices

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume D
      • Zora Neale Hurston (page 515), “How It Feels to be Colored Me”
      • Jean Toomer (page 617), all selections
      • Langston Hughes (page 833), all selections
      • Countee Cullen (page 853), all selections
      • Richard Wright (page 957), “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

4

1-7

Topic: An Overview of Postwar American Poetry

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume E
      • Allen Ginsberg (page 485), “Howl”
      • Anne Sexton (page 549), all selections
      • Adrienne Rich (page 569), “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning,” and “Diving into the Wreck”
      • Sylvia Plath (page 620), all selections
      • Yusef Komunyakaa (page 1034), all selections
      • Louise Erdrich (page 1109), “Dear John Wayne” Li-Young Lee (1122), all selections
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

5

1,2,5-7,10

Topics: The Business of America

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume E
      • Arthur Miller (page 218), “Death of a Salesman”
      • David Mamet (page 999), “Glengarry Glen Ross”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

6

1-7,10

Topic: African-American Fiction

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume E
      • Ralph Ellison (page 189), all selections
      • James Baldwin (page 391), “Going to Meet the Man”
      • Toni Morrison (page 605), “Recitatif”
      • Alice Walker (page 912), “Everyday Use”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

7

1-10

Topic: More Contemporary Fiction

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume E
      • John Updike (page 632), "Separating”
      • Raymond Carver (page 742), “Cathedral”
      • George Saunders (page 1152), “Civil War Land in Bad Decline”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit response paper

8

1-8,10

Topic: Postmodern American Narratives

  • Readings:
    • Norton, Volume E
      • Kurt Vonnegut (page 343), all selections
      • Ursula K. Le Guin (page 587), all selections
      • Thomas Pynchon (page 730), “Entropy”
      • Art Spiegelman (page 1049), from “Maus”
  • Read assigned selections
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Complete Course Evaluation

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies and the “Course Policies” link for specific policies related to this course. COSC Resources information regarding available COSC academic support services and resources.