English 4665/5665: American Literature from 1920-Present, Spring 2014

TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 353


Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours:

MTW 1:15-1:45PM Arts & Sciences 330,

R 1:15-1:45PM Blackbird,

and by appt


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 past semesters, this course has been alternately taught as a modernism/postmodern survey course, a modernism period course, and a postmodernism period course. This section will examine Postwar American Literature from 1945-1965 and include three genres—poetry, fiction, and drama. Undergraduates will compose response papers, a close reading paper, a comparison/contrast paper, a research paper, and an essay exam; graduate students will write a comparison/contrast paper, a book review, and a research paper, as well as teach a class. 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 textbooks (Amazon)

Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

Burroughs, Nova Express

Gaddis, The Recognitions [although this is a 960 page novel, you will have approximately one month to read it, and the plays and poems we're reading will balance weekly page count]

Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

Miller, After the Fall

O'Hara, Lunch Poems

Plath, Ariel

Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

required articles, poems, and short stories (GeorgiaVIEW)

course packet


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4665 Undergraduate Students


two response papers, 5% each

In the two 3-4 page response papers, you will react to a literary work and broach 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, 20%

You will write a 6-7 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


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned literary work and teach the class the best scholarly article found.

comparison/contrast paper, 25%

You will write an 8-10 page paper comparing and contrasting two works of literature, one of which is not covered in class.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a critical book on postwar American literature.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper exploring a key issue or theme in a work of postwar American literature and present your work-in-progress to the class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


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 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 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. 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, 1-14

Bishop, "The Armadillo" (1965) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Lowell, "Skunk Hour" (1959) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Lowell, "Memories of West Street and Lepke" (1959) (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 1-16

Brooks, Annie Allen (1949) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Baym, "American Literature since 1945" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Essential American Poets, "Gwendolyn Brooks"

Week 2
T, 1-21

Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (1956 or "Howl," "Footnote to Howl," "A Supermarket in California," "Sunflower Sutra," "America," "Transcription of Organ Music," "In the Baggage Room at Greyhoud," "An Asphodel," "Song," "Wild Orphan," "In Back of the Real")

Karl, "The Fifties and After: An Ambiguous Culture" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Ginsberg, "Howl"

Recommended: Cusatis, "Postwar Literature 1945-1970" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 1-23

Ginsberg, ""When the Mode of the Music Changes, the Walls of the City Shake" and "Abstraction in Poetry" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Beach, "The New American Poetry and the Postmodern Avant-Garde" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Poetry Off the Shelf, "Wives in the Avocados"

Week 3
T, 1-28

No Class: Snow Day

R, 1-30

Baraka, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Baraka, "Hunting Is Not Those Heads on the Wall"
and "State/Meant" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Beach, "From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: From a Reading at the Asilomar Negro Writers Conference, Pacific Grove, California, early August, 1964

Recommended: Democracy Now!, "January 10, 2014"

Week 4
T, 2-4

Creeley, For Love: Poems 1950-1960 (1962) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Creeley, "A Sense of Measure" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Moramarco and Sullivan, "New Maps for Contemporary Poetry" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Essential American Poets, "Robert Creeley"

R, 2-6

O'Hara, Lunch Poems (1964)

Week 5
T, 2-11

O'Hara, "Personism: A Manifesto" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 2-13

No Class: Snow Day

Week 6

T, 2-18

Plath, Ariel (1965)

Beach, "The Confessional Moment" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Poetry Off the Shelf, "Gimme Fever"

R, 2-20

Baldwin, Giovanni's Room, 1-102 (1956)

Week 7

T, 2-25

Baldwin, 103-69

Bland, "Fire and Romance: African American Literature Since World War II" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Henderson, "James Baldwin, Homosexual Panic, and Man's Estate" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 2-27

Burroughs, Nova Express, 1-90 (1964)

Week 8
T, 3-4

Burroughs, 91-179

Punter, "William Burroughs: The Scene of Addiction" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Tanner, "Rub Out the Word" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

R, 3-6

Salinger, "I'm Crazy" (1945) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Salinger, "A Slight Rebellion off Madison" (1946) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Salinger, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" (1948) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Scofield, "Aspects of the American Short Story 1930-1980" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 9
T, 3-11

Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955)

I.I 3-62, I.II 63-77, and I.III 78-153

R, 3-13

Gaddis, continued (I.IV 154-68, I.V 169-201, I.VI 202-21, I.VII 222-78, and II.I 281-342)

Recommended: A Reader's Guide to The Recognitions

Week 10
T, 3-18

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-20

No Class: Spring Break

Week 11
T, 3-25

Gaddis, continued (II.II 343-89, II.III 390-445, II.IV 446-86)

Recommended: Karl, from "The Counterfeit Decade" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 3-27

No Class: Professor at Conference / Reading Day

Week 12
T, 4-1

Gaddis, continued (II.V 487-541, II.VI 542-67, and

II.VII 568-646)

Recommended: Tanner, "Conclusion" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 4-3

Gaddis, continued (II.VIII 647-699, II.IX 700-20, III.I 723-32, and III.II 733-68)

Week 13
T, 4-8

Gaddis, continued (III.III 769-823, III.IV 824-55, III.V 856-900, and Aux Clients 901-56)

R, 4-10

Cheever, "The Swimmer" (GeorgiaVIEW)

O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" (GeorgiaVIEW)

O'Connor, "Good Country People" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Cheever, "The Swimmer"

Week 14
T, 4-15

Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)

Bell, "American Drama in the Postwar Period" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 4-17

Williams, concluded

Undergraduate Research Paper Due

Graduate Book Review Due

Graduate Research Proposal Due

Week 15
T, 4-22

Albee, The American Dream (1961) (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 4-24

Baraka, Dutchman (1964) (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: From the Berkeley Poetry Conference, July 1965

Week 16
T, 4-29

Miller, After the Fall (1964)

Undergraduate Exam Topics

Graduate Research Panel

R, 5-1

Miller, concluded

T, 5-6

Undergraduate Exam Due

Graduate Research Paper Due