A Brief History of American Literature Syllabus
Time: Tue. 10:10am-12:00am
Place: 教7楼 307
Goals of the course: What is the general history of American literary history? What are the major critical responses to a series of literary works (canons) along its development? How should we, as Chinese readers, respond to the making of its history and histories (multicultural writings)? These will be our key concerns in class discussions.
This course is designed as a gateway both to further study of American literature and as an opportunity for students with any other concentration path in mind who would like to understand American culture and history through reading literature.
We’ll concentrate on fiction, non-fiction, drama, but with some attention to poetry also. We’ll use the methods of literary inquiry in order to explore questions such as: What is the relationship between the making of a Nation and its literature? What are the major literary movements and their direct or indirect relationships with the changing American society? To what extent is it necessary to rethink American literature in terms of the diverse cultural identities and social problems throughout the nation’s history?
We’ll address these questions through a combination of lecture, interactive discussion (group presentation in class), critical papers and one test in class.
The course aims to be challenging as well as interesting, but it does not presume prior study of literature beyond the senior level of colleague English.
The Heath Anthology of American Literature ed. Paul Lauter, Houghton Mifflin 1998
The Harper American Literature ed. Donald McQuade, Harper Collins, 1993
An Outline of American Literature 美国文学大纲 吴定柏 上海外语教育出版社 1998
A Survey of American Literature 美国文学简史 常耀信 南开大学出版社 2003
《美国文学选读》陶洁 主编 高等教育出版社 2005
《二十世纪美国文学史》 杨仁敬 青岛出版社 2000
《美国文学简史？修订本，》 董衡巽 人民文学出版社 2003
[Note. Most lectures presuppose you’ve done the reading!]
Lecture 1. Early Settler Culture, Puritan Imagination and Its Aftermaths
Mary Rowlandson, Narrative
Lecture 2: Late Settler Culture: Transcendentalism and the Rise of American
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
Henry David Thoreau！Walden
Lecture 3: Romanticism continued
Walt Whitman, “One’s Self I Sing”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life”
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Herman Melville, The First Chapter of Moby Dick
Edgar Ellen Poe: Short Stories.
Lecture 4: Conflict and contradiction within Innocence
Mark Twin, Adventures of Tom Sawyer
W. D. Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham
Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country
Lecture 5: Psychological exploration and the rise of Naturalism
Henry James, Daisy Miller
Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
Dreiser: Sister Carrie
Jack London, Martin Eden
st•First Paper due: Aril 21 12:00 am
Lecture 6: Modern Consciousness
T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock”
Sherwood Anderson, The Egg
Robert Frost: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Lecture 7(High Modernism
F. Scott Fitzgerald and American Dream, The Great Gatsby Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises
Lecture 8: High Modernism Continued William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury.
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath.
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita.
Lecture 9: American Drama
Eugene Glastone O’Neill, Desire Under the Elms
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, Act II
American Literatures After World War II
Lecture 10: Afro-American literature
Ralph Waldo Ellison, Invisible Man, chapter 1.
Alice Walker, The Color Purple
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Lecture 11: Jewish-American Literature
Saul Bellow, Herzog, the first chapter
Joseph Heller, Catch-22, chapter 41
Lecture 12: Chinese-American Literature
Bette Bao Lord, Spring Moon
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoires of a Girlhood
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
th Hour exam: July 7
III: Writing Requirements, principles of evaluation
The course grade will be determined as follows:
--50% one paper
--50% the hour exam
The paper should be 1000-1500 words (approx. 4 typed pages). You should select as your basic topic one of the main literary themes or socio-historical issues discussed to the point of writing.
Your paper should include detailed discussion (250 words or more) of a particular short passage in your chosen work—a passage no more than a page in length. The
passage itself should be printed not in the main body of your paper but at the end, as an appendix (Xerox is OK), and it should not count towards the overall word limit. The reason for including this requirement of detailed treatment of a short passage is to ensure that you will get some training in doing micro-level analysis of a literary work.
The hour exam will cover the basic literary concepts and authors of the works discussed in lectures. You are welcome to bring notes and textbooks, though I don’t
think you’ll need to refer to them much, if at all. I’ll prepare you in more detail for
what to expect on the exam as the time approaches.
A Note on Lateness Policy:
Paper submitted late without valid excuse will be penalized at the rate of 1/3 of a grade per day or fraction thereof (with Saturday and Sunday counting as a single day.) Academic and work conflicts are not grounds for an extension.
IV. Other Information
A. Format (Important !). All written assignments (other than examination) must be
double spaced with pages numbered. All quotations should be documented. All
sources to which you are substantially indebted should be acknowledged in your
notes, whether or not you quote them directly; otherwise you have committed
plagiarism, resulting in FAILURE!
B. Limits of Collaboration. You are welcome to discuss your ideas for papers with
classmates as well as with me. But your writing must be your own individual
work. You are not permitted to show your papers themselves or drafts to
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