Assignments

English 2130: American Literature, Fall 2018

TR 9:30-10:45 a.m., Arts & Sciences 243

In Class Activities

1. Bradstreet's World View

We've been analyzing reports and chronicles as a large class, and we've introduced Anne Bradstreet's poetry. Let's divide into small groups of 3 or 4 to look at specific poems (and a letter). Groups should elect secretaries to report their discussions to the class so the class can synthesize Bradstreet's overal world view. Here are the poems (and a letter):

Here are the discussion questions:

2. Mather's and Edwards' World Views

While Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson's writing emphasize God's providence as an eternal comfort in the worldly dangers of mortality, wilderness, and violence, Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards have a more sensational view of religion. Let's break into small groups to discuss the key concepts from the Cotton Mather's and Jonathan Edwards' selections.

  1. Cotton Mather, from The Wonders of the Invisible World: Discuss the relationship between Mather's faith and his historical reporting.
  2. Jonathan Edwards, "Personal Narrative": What role does delight play in Edwards' spiritual life?
  3. Jonathan Edwards, "A Divine and Supernatural Light": Define and describe divine light.

3. Political Ideals vs Social Realities

So far, we've been looking mostly at the vicissitudes of religious ideals in the early colonial period. Today, we're going to shift to political ideals. Let's break into small groups to discuss the political ideals (and realities) that Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison envision (and contend with). For each selection, first discuss the tension that gave rise to the writing, then describe the American ideal defined or created by the text, and, finally, analyze how the political ideal was challenged by social reality.

  1. Thomas Paine, from Common Sense:
  2. Thomas Paine, from The Crisis, No. 1
  3. Thomas Jefferson, from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
  4. The Federalist, No. 1
  5. The Ferderalist, No. 10

4. Narrative of the Life of an Enslaved Transcendentalist

Today, let's recognize the amazing job of Frederick Douglass. First, we'll examine his work and ideas. Break into groups, discuss one of the following issues, and report the highlights of your conversation to the class:

  1. Describe Douglass's literary form of autobiography, the slave narrative.
  2. Describe Douglass's beliefs regarding education.
  3. Describe Douglass's attitude toward and critique of slaveholding society.
  4. Describe Douglass's attitude toward Christians and his belief in religion.
  5. Describe Douglass's views regarding freedom.

Next, return to your small groups and put Douglass's work and ideas in connection with the Transcendentalists by discussing one of the following issues, which you will report to the class:

  1. Does the form and/or message of Douglass's genre (autobiography, slave narrative) share any characteristcs with the nonfiction of some of the Transcendentialists we've read, such as Emerson and Thoreau? How and why might the form of these works follow their message/content?
  2. How might Douglass's views on education correspond with Emerson's "Man Thinking" in Nature?
  3. How might Douglass's attitude toward and critique of slaveholding society relate to Thoreau's ideas in "Resistance to Civil Government"?
  4. How might Douglass's attitude toward Christians and his belief in religion compare to Hawthorne's ideas in "The May-Pole of Merry Mount" and/or Emerson's views in Nature?
  5. How might Douglass's views regarding freedom compare and contrast with Emerson's views on individuality and self-reliance and Thoreau's reasons for going into the woods?

5. Huck's (and America's) Moral Journey

For our first day of discussion of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, let's focus on Huck's identity quest and moral development. First, let's count off; your number is the chapter number. Next, spend 5-10 minutes writing down your thoughts to the following questions:

  1. Do a general character sketch of Huck Finn, including his key characteristics, attitudes, and conflicts.
  2. Next, how does Huck act around the characters in your assigned chapter, and why does he act the way he does around those characters?
  3. What is the main conflict or plot issue in your assigned chapter? Does it have an ethical or moral component? What is Huck's role in the conflict; or, how does he respond to the conflict?
  4. Bonus: Does Huck assume an alternate identity in your chapter? If so, why does he do it and what is the connection between the character he's playing and his real identity?

Finally, let's share our responses to the individual chapters with the class; and, as a class, let's interpret what the novel is suggesting about America's moral systems.

 

As you read the second half of the novel, consider the following questions:

6. Twain's Critique of American Civilization

Today, let's pick up where we left off on Huck and Jim's journey down the river and focus on the characters they meet. Divide into groups and discuss the following questions about the characters and what they represent about American society.

 

Here are the characters:

Here are the discussion questions:

Response

GeorgiaVIEW Post

You will write an informal response to a work of literature and post it to GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Response two days before we discuss the text in class.

 

The response should

Informal Presentation

You will also be responsible for a brief, informal presentation. The response presentation should summarize the work, share your impressions, and broach questions for class discussion.

Due Dates

  1. Your written assignment will be due in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Response two days before we are scheduled to discuss the work. (Note: Summaries will be penalized one letter grade for each day, not class period, that they are turned in late. It is your responsibility to check the sign up schedule and complete the assignment on time.)
  2. Your brief, informal presentation will be due on the day we discuss the essay in class. This date is approximate for we will sometimes fall a day behind. (Note: Failing to present the article to the class without providing a valid absence excuse will result in a one letter grade penalty.)
  3. I will return your graded assignment to you in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Response approximately one week after we discuss the article in class. Due to GeorgiaVIEW limitations, I am unable to return graded assignments to you unless and until you submit them to the Assignment dropbox.
  4. For example, we are scheduled to discuss Emily Dickinson's poems on Thursday, 9-27. Therefore, someone's response to a particular Dickinson poem of her choice will be due in GeorgiaVIEW by Tuesday, 9-25. In class on Thursday, 9-27, that student will informally present the main ideas and issues of Dickinson's poem. I will return the graded response to her the following week in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Response. Due to GeorgiaVIEW limitations, I cannot return your graded paper unless and until you upload it to the Dropbox. Here's how to calculate your course grade.

Sign Up

It is strongly recommended that you space out your Response, Close Reading, and Group Panel, and you cannot sign up for a Group Panel on a literary period on which you are completing a Close Reading.

 

Written

Due Date

Oral

Due Date

Reading

Student

S, 8-26

T, 8-28

Bradford or Bradstreet

1 Andy Ferguson

T, 8-28

R, 8-30

Mather

2 Aurora Perez

Edwards

3 Jessica Koo

S, 9-2

T, 9-4

Paine

4 William Detjen

T, 9-4

R, 9-6

Equiano

5 Alexandria Gibbons

Wheatley

6

S, 9-16

T, 9-18

Hawthorne

7 Claire Korzekwa

T, 9-18

R, 9-20

Douglass

8 Mikaela Smoak

S, 9-23

T, 9-25

Whitman

9 Bentley Brock

T, 9-25

R, 9-27

Dickinson

10 Emma Boggs

11 Maggie Waldmann

T, 10-2

R, 10-4

Twain (108-206)

12 Taylor Whittington

S, 10-14

T, 10-16

Twain (206-90)

13 Cameron Hallman /

Hannah Green

S, 10-21

T, 10-23

London

14 Cody Dreyer

Crane

15 Sydney Wilson

T, 10-23

R, 10-25

Washington

16 Sydney Miller

Du Bois

17 Uri-Kimtrell Johnson

T, 10-30

R, 11-1

Eliot

18 Reed Backett

S, 11-11

T, 11-13

Porter

19 Christina Agramonte

Fitgerald or Hemingway

20 John Morris

S, 11-20

T, 11-20

Cheever

21 Julia Melvin

Baldwin

22 Emily Embry

T, 11-27

R, 11-29

Pynchon (80-152)

23 Jessi Johnson

S, 12-2

T, 12-4

Williams

24 Ethan Griffis

T, 12-4

R, 12-6

Brooks or Rich

25 Erica Garner

Close Reading

While the informal response teaches you to actively read and reflect on a work of literature, the formal close reading essay gives you the opportunity to rigorously analyze a work of literature. For the this formal paper, write a 4-6 page essay that either 1) explicates, line-by-line, a short poem or section of a long poem assigned on the syllabus, being sure to illuminate, through nuanced reading of figurative language, diction, connotation, and symbol, how the central tensions, ambiguities, and contradictions constitute a cohesive theme or 2) examines the most important passage in one of the prose works we have read so far, interpreting it sentence-by-sentence through nuanced reading of figurative language, diction, connotation, and symbol, and arguing its centrality to the core conflicts, character, and overall theme of the story. In other words, using either this short poem or this short story key passage, you should write a paper that interprets the universal theme of the work by explicating the fundamental conflicts within the particular lines of text. Your essay should be driven by a thesis that argues the work's theme and logically organized by close reading of the text: unpack the tension and conflict, connotation and diction, idea and theme.

 

There are four possible due dates for this paper. Each due date covers a different range of texts from the syllabus on which you may perform a close reading. You may not sign up for a close reading that covers the same time period as your group panel. For instance, if you are in group panel 3 or 4 (American Literature 1865-1914: Realism or Regionalism), you cannot sign up for Close Reading Option 3; however, you may sign up for Option 1, 2, or 4.

Sign Up

It is strongly recommended that you space out your Response, Close Reading, and Group Panel, and you cannot sign up for a Group Panel on a literary period on which you are completing a Close Reading.

 

Option 1: T, 9-11

American Literature Beginnigs to 1820

texts on the syllabus from 8-23 through 9-6

1 Reed Brackett

2 Claire Korzekwa

3 Julia Melvin

4 Sydney Miller

5 John Morris

6 Sydney Wilson

7

Option 2: R, 10-18

American Literature 1820-1865

texts on the syllabus from 9-11 through 9-27

8 Christina Agramonte

9 Cody Dreyer

10 Hannah Green

11 Ethan Griffis

12 Mikaela Smoak

13 Maggie Waldmann

14 Taylor Whittington

Option 3: T, 10-30

American Literature 1865-1914

texts on the syllabus from 10-4 through 10-25

15 Emma Boggs

16 Willian Detjen

17 Emily Embry

18 Erica Garner

19 Jessi Johnson

20

21 Aurora Perez

Option 4: T, 11-15

American Literature 1914-1945

texts on the syllabus from 10-30 through 11-13

22 Bentley Brock

23 Andy Ferguson

24 Alexandria Gibbons

25 Cameron Hallman

26 Uri-Kimtrell Johnson

27 Jessica Koo

28

Parameters

Group Project

While the response and close reading papers compel you to actively read and rigorously analyze literature, respectively, and the essay exams necessitate making connections and distinctions among texts in the literary periods of American literature, the group project obliges you to research a literary period and literary work within the period, and then to present your findings to the class.

Annotated Bibliography

Groups will research the period and the literary work's place within the period by composing a 10 source annotated bibliography of scholarly journal articles and book chapters on their particular topic. About 5-7 of the sources should be on the literary period and about 3-5 of the sources should be on the author/text's issues and themes, particularly its place within the period. The Purdue OWL provides an overview of annotated bibliographies.

Presentation

Groups will present on their work of literature in a 15-20 minute panel. Approximately 1/2 to 2/3 of the time should be spent explaining the key tenets of the literary period; approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the time should be spent explaining some key issues and themes of the text and especially how the text fits within the literary period. Groups should highlight their research findings; but they should not simply read their annotations. You may want to use a Prezi or Powerpoint to highlight information. Groups will then respond to class queries in a 10-15 question and answer session.

Parameters

Sign Up

It is strongly recommended that you space out your Response, Close Reading, and Group Panel, and you cannot sign up for a Group Panel on a literary period on which you are completing a Close Reading.

 

Due Date

Period and Text

Student

T, 9-11

Group Panel 1

American Literature 1820-1865

Transcendentalism and Emerson

1 Emma Boggs

2 William Detjen

3 Erica Garner

R, 9-13

Group Panel 2

American Literature 1820-1865

Transcendentalism and Thoreau

4 Christina Agramonte

5 Andy Ferguson

6 Julia Melvin

R, 10-18

Group Panel 3

American Literature 1865-1914

Realism and James

7 Bentley Brock

8 Jessica Koo

9 John Morris

T, 10-23

Group Panel 4

American Literature 1865-1914

Naturalism and Crane or London

10 Ethan Griffis

11 Claire Korzekwa

12 Maggie Waldmann

T, 10-30

Group Panel 5

American Literature 1914-1945

Modernism and Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

13 Alexandria Gibbons

14 Hannah Green

15 Mikaela Smoak

T, 11-6

Group Panel 6

American Literature 1914-1945

The Harlem Renaissance and Hughes

16 Emily Embry

17 Uri-Kimtrell Johnson

18 Taylor Whittington

R, 11-15

Group Panel 7

American Literature since 1945

Postwar/Beat Literature and Ginsberg

19 Reed Brackett

Cody Dreyer

20 Jessi Johnson

21 Sydney Wilson

T, 11-27

Group Panel 8

American Literature since 1945

Postmodernism and Pynchon

22 Cameron Hallman

23 Sydney Miller

24 Aurora Perez

Midterm Exam

While the response and close reading papers compel you to actively read and rigorously analyze literature, respectively, and while the group panel obliges you to research a literary period and literary work, the in class, closed book essay exam necessitates making connections and distinctions among texts in the literary periods of American literature in a timed test of understanding. You will write two comparison/contrast essays selected by you from a list of 5-6 questions generated from topics suggested by the class on Tuesday, September 25.

Texts

Topics

Preparation

In order to prepare for the exam, I strongly recommend that you create a study guide based upon your annotations of the reading and your class notes. For each creative literary text (poems and short stories), note the key characters and their traits, core conflicts, themes, and pertinent quotations. For each nonfiction text (journals, diaries, reports, etc.), note the key issues and ideas as well as pertinent quotations. This guide will look very similar to an annotated bibliography.

 

After creating the study guide with its key ideas, conflicts, themes, and multiple quotations, I suggest creating a list of the most significant quotations (one passage per author, see parameters below for more specifications), which you will be able to reference during the exam.

 

I suggest applying various readings into the comparative topics, noting that not every reading will be appropriate for every topic, and constructing potential comparative thesis statements. Although you will not know the exact questions, you can practice putting different readings into comparison and contrast, and this will help you prepare for the actual essay exam.

Parameters

Although the in class essay exam is closed book, you may bring a print out of significant quotations. This one-page, single-sided sheet may contain one passage per author appearing on the exam. Poetry quotations are limited to 4 lines; prose quotations are limited to 2 sentences. Quotations must be typed in 10-12 pt font and single-spaced.

 

Do not use an author or text in more than one essay (in other words, if you discuss Bradstreet in one essay, you may not analyze her in another essay). Not all works are appropriate for all essays. Choose works which afford adequate material to address the question at hand.

 

Have a controlling idea, an interpretation, a thesis that bridges the works. Organize essays by argument and analysis. Make connections and distinctions among the works; compare and contrast the works' key ideas. Support your points with textual evidence; avoid plot summary. You will be graded on your interpretive understanding of the texts as well as your ability to compare and contrast meanings and issues.

Final Exam

TBA