English 2130: American Literature, Fall 2016

TR 12:30-1:45PM, Arts & Sciences 366




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 11:30-12:15PM and 5:00-5:30PM Arts & Sciences 330


Course Description


The undergraduate course catalog describes English 2130 as "a survey of important works of American literature." This course will survey six general periods of American literature (beginnings to 1700, 1700-1820, 1820-1865, 1865-1914, 1914-1945, and 1945-1966) and highlight works by significant authors such as Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, and Thomas Pynchon. Students will informally respond to a selected text, formally analyze a selected text, compare and contrast topics and themes across works and periods in two essay exams, and research and teach a work to the class in a group panel.


This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

Course Materials


required (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Baym, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th ed.

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

required (GeorgiaVIEW)

course packet

recommended (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

MLA Handbook, 8th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


response, 5%

The informally written and presented response will summarize, respond to, and ask questions about significant issues in a scheduled work of literature.

close reading, 20%

The close reading essay will rigorously analyze a short section of a literary work.

group panel, 25%

Groups of 3-4 will research and present on a work of literature.

midterm exam, 25%

The in class midterm essay exam will compare and contrast topics across literary works and periods.

final exam, 25%

The take home final essay exam will compare and contrast topics across literary works and periods.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and electronic course reserves. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Spideroak to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The Undergraduate Catalog defines academic dishonesty as "Plagiarizing, including the submission of others’ ideas or papers (whether purchased, borrowed, or otherwise obtained) as one’s own When direct quotations are used in themes, essays, term papers, tests, book reviews, and other similar work, they must be indicated; and when the ideas of another are incorporated in any paper, they must be acknowledged, according to a style of documentation appropriate to the discipline" and "Submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course," among other false representations. "As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, "since the primary goal of education is to increase one's own knowledge," any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1

T, 8-16


R, 8-18

Beginnings to 1700

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 3-19)

The Iroquois Creation Story (NAAL 20-3)

Cabeza de Vaca, from The Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (NAAL 28-35)

Champlain, from The Voyages of Sieur de Champlain (NAAL 43-7)

Week 2

T, 8-23

Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation (NAAL 72-89)

Bradstreet, poems (NAAL 110-25)

In Class Activity: Bradstreet's World View

R, 8-25

Rowlandson, from A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (NAAL 126-43)

Mather, from The Wonders of the Invisible World (NAAL 149-55)

Week 3

T, 8-30

American Literature 1700-1820

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 157-69)

Edwards, narratives and sermons (NAAL 177-220)

R, 9-1

Native Americans: Contact and Conflict (NAAL 221-34)

Franklin, "The Way to Wealth," "The Speech of Polly Baker," and "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America" (NAAL 234-47)

Week 4

T, 9-6

Franklin, from The Autobiography (NAAL 248-307)

R, 9-8

Paine, from Common Sense and The Crisis, No. 1 (NAAL 323-44)

Wheatley, poems (NAAL401-11)

MLA Style: Formatting and Quoting

Week 5

T, 9-13

American Literature 1820-1865

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 445-66)

Emerson, Nature, "The American Scholar," and "Self-Reliance" (NAAL 505-65)

Recommended: Native Americans: Removal and Resistance (NAAL 584-602)

Recommended: Slavery, Race, and the Making of American Literature (NAAL 761-78)

In Class Activity: From Colonialism to Renaissance

Close Reading Option 1 Due

R, 9-15

Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown," "The Minister's Black Veil," and "The Birth-Mark" (NAAL 603-6, 619-28, 636-56)

Week 6

T, 9-20

Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself and "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" (NAAL 934-1004)

Exam Topics

R, 9-22

Poe, "The Raven" (NAAL 683-91)

Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," (NAAL 105-1024, 1024-66, 1069-73)

In Class Activity: Whitman's Self, Whitman's America

Group Panel 1 Due

Week 7

T, 9-27

Dickinson, poems (NAAL 1189-1218)

R, 9-29

Midterm Exam

Week 8

T, 10-4

American Literature 1865-1914

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 1265-81)

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (NAAL 1282-4, 1289-1384)

In Class Activity: Huck's (and America's) Moral Journey

Close Reading Option 2 Due

R, 10-6

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (NAAL 1384-1465)

Week 9

T, 10-11

No Class: Fall Break

R, 10-13

James, Daisy Miller: A Study (NAAL 1508-1549)

Jewett, "A White Heron" (NAAL 1596-1603)

In Class Activity: Daisy Miller: An In Class Activity

Week 10

T, 10-18

Chesnutt, "The Wife of His Youth" (NAAL 1641-56)

Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-Paper" (NAAL 1668-81)

Recommended: Zitkala Ša, from Impressions of an Indian Childhood and "The Soft-Hearted Sioux" (NAAL 1823-36)

Group Panel 2 Due

R, 10-20

Washington, from Up from Slavery (NAAL 1631-40)

Du Bois, from The Souls of Black Folk (NAAL 1715-31)

Chopin, "The Storm" (NAAL 1604-5, 1618-21)

Group Panel 3 Due

Week 11

T, 10-25

American Literature 1914-1945

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 1837-56)

Williams, poems and manifesto (NAAL 1961-69, 1988-9)

Close Reading Option 3 Due

R, 10-27

Stein, from Tender Buttons (NAAL1898-1910)

Pound, poems and manifesto (NAAL 1970-7, 1984-5)

Week 12

T, 11-1

McKay, poems (NAAL 2109-12)

Cullen, poems (NAAL 2240-43)

Recommended: Hurston, "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" and "The Gilded Six-Bits" (NAAL 2123-34)

R, 11-3

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 13

T, 11-8

Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily" and "Barn Burning" (NAAL 2178-2200)

Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (NAAL 2203-21)

Recommended: Fitzgerald, "Babylon Revisited" (NAAL 2147-8, 2164-77)

Group Panels 4 and 5 Due

R, 11-10

American Literature since 1945

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL 2255-71)

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (NAAL 2297-60)

(showing September 28-October 1 at 8 p.m. and October 2 at 2 p.m. in Russell Auditorium)

Close Reading Option 4 Due

Week 14

T, 11-15

Cheever, "The Swimmer" (NAAL 2361-69)

Baldwin, "Going to Meet the Man" (NAAL 2511-22)

R, 11-17

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon 1-79)

In Class Activity: Pynchon's Counter-Cultural Satire

Week 15

T, 11-22

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon 80-152)

In Class Activity: Pynchon's Plowshares

R, 11-24

No Class: Thanksgiving Holidays

Week 16

T, 11-29

Ginsberg, poetry (NAAL 2538-48)

Plath, poetry (NAAL 2600-7)

Exam Topics

Group Panel 6 Due

R, 12-1

Brooks, poetry (NAAL 2493-6)

Miller, Death of a Salesman (NAAL 2416-81)

Recommended: Baraka, poetry (NAAL 2640-6)

Group Panel 7 Due


F, 12-9

Final Exam