English 4665/5665: American Literature from 1920-Present, Fall 2012

Section 01: MW 5:30-6:45PM, Arts & Sciences 368


Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours:

MW 1:00-1:50PM

and 4:55-5:25PM A&S 330



Course Description


The undergraduate course catalog describes English 4665 as "A study of selected American works from 1920 to the present, emphasizing literary modernism and post-modernism." This course's Academic Assessment page, amended by unanimous departmental vote on 9 March 2012 and awaiting electronic update, describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

In this particular section, we will survey four genres of postmodern literature: creative non-fiction by Mailer and Monson; fiction by Acker, Barth, Butler, Danielewski, Roth, and Wallace; poetry by Ashbery, Mackey, Retallack, and Waldrop; and drama by Albee, Hwang, Owens, Parks, and Shepard. Undergraduate students will write a literary biography, a close reading paper, a comparison/contrast paper, a research paper, and an exam; graduate students will write a book review, a comparison/contrast paper, a research paper, and an exam as well as give a presentation. This course counts towards area 1.B in the major program for a B.A. in English, Literature Concentration, and area 3.B in the major program for a B.A. in English, Creative Writing Concentration. This course's prerequisite is ENGL 2110 or IDST 2305, or permission of the instructor.


Course Materials


required (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Acker, Empire of the Senseless

Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Baker, The Mezzanine

Butler, Kindred

Hwang, M. Butterfly

Mackey, Splay Anthem

Mailer, The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History

Monson, Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir

Retallack, Memnoir

Roth, The Ghost Writer

Waldrop, Curves to the Apple

Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

required (online)

various stories and articles

recommended (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4665 Undergraduate Students


literary biography, 5%

You will write a 3-4 page literary biography explaining the general issues and themes of a writer's opus as well as posing particular questions for class discussion.

close reading paper and presentation, 20%

You will pair up to write a 5-6 page close reading paper and 5-7 minute presentation analyzing a key passage in a single work of literature.

comparison/contrast paper, 25%

You will write a 5-6 page paper comparing and contrasting two works of literature.

research paper, 25%

You will write an 8-10 page research paper exploring a key issue or theme in a single work of literature or across two or three works of literature.

take home exam, 25%

You will write a 10-12 page take home exam comparing and contrasting ideas and issues in the work of postmodernist authors. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


5665 Graduate Students


presentation, 10%

You will teach a scholarly criticism on a work of literature we're reading.

book review, 15%

You will write a 4-5 page book review of a monograph on postmodern literature.

comparison/contrast paper, 15%

You will write a 6-7 page paper comparing and contrasting two works of literature, one of which is not covered in class.

research paper, 30%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper exploring a key issue or theme in a single work of literature and present your paper to the class.

take home exam, 30%

You will write a 12-14 page take home exam comparing and contrasting ideas in the work of postmodernist authors. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions for each reading. We're going to be working with challenging texts; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give quizzes.

Office Hours and Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use etiquette in both email and in person.


We will be using GeorgiaVIEW and TurnItIn for assignments. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox to save your work.


Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will automatically failure of 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 a death in one's immediate family, one's own 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. You can check your attendance online. A note about religious observances: Students are permitted to miss class in observance of religious holidays and other activities observed by a religious group of which the student is a member without academic penalty. Exercising of one's rights under this policy is subject to the GC Honor Code. Students who miss class in observance of a religious holiday or event are required to make up the coursework missed as a result from the absence. The nature of the make-up assignments and the deadline for completion of such assignments are at the sole discretion of the instructor. Failure to follow the prescribed procedures voids all student rights under this policy. The full policy and prescribed procedures can be found here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

While in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted, formal assignments and take-home exams must adhere to the Modern Language Association (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) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, 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 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 one-third letter grade penalty. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout. I encourage students to use my MS Word template.

Late Assignments

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. 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 automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic 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 submission of another's work as one's own is plagiarism and will be dealt with using the procedures outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. Allowing another student to copy one’s own work is considered cheating; and submitting the same paper in two classes (recycling or double-dipping) is dishonest. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Click here to see how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology, 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: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) 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.

Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability

If you have a disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and physical accessibility.  Disability Services, a unit of the GCSU Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GCSU programs and facilities. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, we recommend that you contact Disability Services located in Lanier Hall at 478-445-5931 or 478-445-4233.

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 Lanier Hall 209, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Fire Drills

Fire drills will be conducted annually. In the event of a fire alarm, students will exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit. Learn the floor plan and exits of the building. Do not use elevators. If you encounter heavy smoke, crawl on the floor so as to gain fresh air. Assist disabled persons and others if possible without endangering your own life. Assemble for a head count on the front lawn of main campus or other designated assembly area. For more information on other emergencies, click here.

Student Opinion Surveys

Given the technological sophistication of Georgia College students, the student opinion survey is being delivered through an online process. Your constructive feedback plays an indispensable role in shaping quality education at Georgia College. All responses are completely confidential and your name is not stored with your responses in any way. In addition, instructors will not see any results of the opinion survey until after final grades are submitted to the University. An invitation to complete the online opinion survey is distributed to students near the end of the semester. Your participation in this very important process is greatly appreciated.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so check back in class and online for possible revisions.


Week 1
M, 8-13

From Modernism to Postmodernism Lecture

Daffy Duck in Hollywood (1938)

Ashbery, "Daffy Duck in Hollywood" (1977)

Gavin, "Post-Modernism" (1988)

W, 8-15

Creative Non-Fiction 1

Mailer, The Armies of the Night, 1-132 (1968)

Definitions, "Postmodernism" [GeorgiaVIEW, hereafter GAV]

Week 2
M, 8-20

Mailer, The Armies of the Night, 133-288

Hassan, "Toward a Concept of Postmodernism" (1987) [GAV]

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, Norman Mailer

In Class Activity: Closely Reading Mailer

W, 8-22


Barth, "Lost in the Funhouse" (1967) [GAV]

Roth, The Ghost Writer, 1-74 (1979)

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, John Barth 1 | 2

Week 3
M, 8-27

Roth, The Ghost Writer, 75-180

Connor, "Postmodernism and Literature" (1997) [GAV]

W, 8-29

Butler, Kindred, 1-188 (1979)

Week 4
M, 9-3

No Class: Labor Day

W, 9-5

Butler, Kindred, 189-287

Lewis, "Postmodernism and Fiction" (2005) [GAV]

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, Octavia Butler

Week 5
M, 9-10

Baker, The Mezzanine, 1-70 (1988)

W, 9-12

Baker, 71-135

Week 6

M, 9-17

Acker, Empire of the Senseless, 1-108 (1988)

W, 9-19

Acker, Empire of the Senseless, 109-227

Redding, "Bruises, Roses: Masochism and the Writing of Kathy Acker" [GAV]

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, Kathy Acker

Week 7
M, 9-24

Coover, "The Babysitter" (1969) [GAV]

Pynchon, "Entropy" (1984) [GAV]

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, Robert Coover 1 | 2

W, 9-26

Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, 1-160 (1999)

In Class Activity: Analyzing a Short Story Collection

Graduate Book Review Due

Recommended: The David Foster Wallace Audio Project

Week 8
M, 10-1

Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, 161-321

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, David Foster Wallace

W, 10-3


Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975)

Week 9
M, 10-8

No Class: Fall Break

W, 10-10

Ashbery, concluded

Adelmann, "The Pose of Imposture: Ashbery's 'Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror'" [GAV]

Recommended: PennSound, John Ashbery

Week 10
M, 10-15

Waldrop, Curves to the Apple, 1-100 (1987/1999)

Perelman, "Language Writing and Literary History" [GAV]

Recommended: PennSound, Rosmarie Waldrop

W, 10-17

Waldrop, Curves to the Apple, 101-95

Week 11
M, 10-22

Retallack, Memnoir, all (2004)

Perloff, "The Changing Face of Common Intercourse: Talk Poetry, Talk Show, and the Scene of Writing" [GAV]

Undergraduate Comparison or Research Paper Due

Graduate Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

Recommended: PennSound, Joan Retallack

W, 10-24

Mackey, Splay Anthem, 1-54 (2006)

Week 12
M, 10-29

Mackey, Splay Anthem, 55-126

Recommended: Poem Present, Nathaniel Mackey

W, 10-31


Albee, The Zoo Story (1959) [GAV]

Albee, The Sandbox (1960) [GAV]

Fortier, "Postmodern Theory" (2003) [GAV]

Recommended: The Diane Rehm Show, Edward Albee

Week 13
M, 11-5

Shepard, Action (1975) [GAV]

Shepard, Savage/Love (1981) [GAV]

Graduate Research Paper Proposal Due

W, 11-7

Hwang, M. Butterfly, all (1988)

Schmidt, "The Postmodern Condition of Theatre" (2005) [GAV]

Recommended: The Treatment, David Henry Hwang

Week 14
M, 11-12

Hwang, concluded

Shin, "Projected Bodies in David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly and Golden Gate" [GAV]

W, 11-14

Owens, Emma Instigated Me (1976) [GAV]

Parks, In the Blood (2000) [GAV]

Angus, "Metadrama, Authority, and the Roots of Incredulity" (2008) [GAV]

Recommended: Theatre Talk, Suzan-Lori Parks

Week 15
M, 11-19

Creative Non-Fiction 2

Monson, Vanishing Point, 1-92 (2010)

Undergraduate Comparison or Research Paper Due

Exam Topics Assigned

W, 11-21

No Class: Thanksgiving

Week 16
M, 11-26

Monson, Vanishing Point, 93-191

Recommended: KCRW's Bookworm, Ander Monson

Graduate Research Paper Due

W, 11-28

Graduate Research Paper Panel

M, 12-3

Graduate Research Paper Panel

T, 12-4

Exam Due by 5:30PM