English 2130: American Literature, Fall 2018

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




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 11:00-12:15 p.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m., Arts & Sciences 303 (appointment preferred)


Course Description


The undergraduate course catalog describes English 2130 as "a survey of important works of American literature." This course will survey five general periods of American literature (beginnings to 1820, 1820-1865, 1865-1914, 1914-1945, and 1945-1965) and highlight works by significant authors such as Anne Bradstreet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, 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 a literary period and literary work's place within the period.


This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

The skills you will practice include:

Course Materials



Levine, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 9th ed., 2 vol. (Amazon or B&N)

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49. (Amazon or B&N)

course packet (GeorgiaVIEW)


MLA Handbook, 8th ed. (Amazon or B&N)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


response, 5%

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

close reading, 20%

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

group project, 15%

Groups of 4-5 will research and present on a literary period and an author's work within the period.

midterm exam, 25%

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

final exam, 35%

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 the course packet; if you experience problems with GeorgiaVIEW, immediately contact support. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service 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, Electronic Recording Policy, and Academic Grievance or Appeals can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1

T, 8-21


R, 8-23

Beginnings to 1820

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL1 3-28)

The Iroquois Creation Story (NAAL1 31-4)

"Cherokee War Song" (NAAL1 42)

"Lenape War Song" (NAAL1 43)

"Two Cherokee Songs of Friendship" (NAAL1 44)

Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation (NAAL1 69-91)

(Readings for today are also available in GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 2

T, 8-28

Bradstreet, poems (NAAL1 112-29)

Rowlandson, from A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (NAAL1 130-51)

In Class Activity: Bradstreet's World View

(Readings for today are also available in GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 8-30

Mather, from The Wonders of the Invisible World (NAAL1 159-65)

Edwards, "Personal Narrative" and "A Divine and Supernatural Light" (NAAL1 166-192)

In Class Activity: Mather's and Edwards' World Views

(Readings for today are also available in GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 3

T, 9-4

Paine, from Common Sense and The Crisis, No. 1 (NAAL1 337-51)

Jefferson, from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (NAAL1 352-59)

The Federalist, No. 1 and No. 10 (NAAL1 360-9)

In Class Activity: Political Ideals vs Social Realities

R, 9-6

Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (NAAL1 370-405)

Wheatley, poems (NAAL1 420-30)

MLA Style

Week 4

T, 9-11

American Literature 1820-1865

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL1 489-510)

Emerson, Nature, "The American Scholar," and "Self-Reliance" (NAAL1 550-614)

Group Panel 1: Transcendentalism and Emerson

Close Reading Option 1 Due

R, 9-13

Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government" and from Walden, or Life in the Woods (NAAL1 900-995)

Group Panel 2: Transcendentalism and Thoreau

Week 5

T, 9-18

Hawthorne, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" and "The May-Pole of Merry Mount" (NAAL1 651-67, 678-84, 694-705)

R, 9-20

Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself (NAAL1 996-1065)

In Class Activity: Narrative of the Life of an Enslaved Transcendentalist

Week 6

T, 9-25

Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" (NAAL1 1070-87, 1139-43)

Exam Topics

R, 9-27

Dickinson, poems (NAAL1 1246-74)

Week 7

T, 10-2

Midterm Exam

R, 10-4

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (NAAL2 108-206)

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

Week 8

T, 10-9

No Class: Fall Break

R, 10-11

No Class: Hurricane Michael

Week 9

T, 10-16

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (NAAL2 206-290)

In Class Activity: Twain's Critique of American Civilization

R, 10-18

American Literature 1865-1914

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL2 1-20)

James, Daisy Miller: A Study (NAAL2 338-81)

Group Panel 3: Realism and James

Close Reading Option 2 Due

Week 10

T, 10-23

Crane, "The Open Boat" (NAAL2 611-30)

London, "To Build a Fire" (NAAL2 639-51)

Group Panel 4: Naturalism and Crane or London

R, 10-25

Freeman, "A New England Nun" (NAAL2 459-68)

Washington, from Up from Slavery (NAAL2 469-79)

Du Bois, from The Souls of Black Folk (NAAL2 559-77)

Week 11

T, 10-30

American Literature 1914-1945

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL2 667-87)

Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (NAAL2 827-33)

Group Panel 5: Modernism and Eliot

Close Reading Option 3 Due

R, 11-1

Eliot, "The Waste Land" and "The Hollow Men" (NAAL2 834-49)

In Class Activity: Reassembling "The Waste Land"

Week 12

T, 11-6

Group Panel 6: The Harlem Renaissance and Hughes

McKay, poems (NAAL2 934-7)

Hughes, poems (NAAL2 1036-43)

R, 11-8

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 13

T, 11-13

Porter, "Flowering Judas" (NAAL2 938-47)

Fitzgerald, "Babylon Revisited" (NAAL2 991-1004)

Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" (NAAL2 1030-35)

In Class Activity: Modernist Stories

R, 11-15

American Literature since 1945

Introduction and Timeline (NAAL2 1069-90)

Group Panel 7: Postwar/Beat Literature and Ginsberg

Close Reading Option 4 Due

Ginsberg, Howl, Footnote to Howl, and "A Supermarket in California" (NAAL2 1392-1402)

Week 14

T, 11-20

Cheever, "The Swimmer" (NAAL2 1182-90)

Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues" (NAAL2 1343-65

R, 11-22

No Class: Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 15

T, 11-27

Group Panel 8: Postmodernism and Pynchon

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

In Class Activity: Pynchon's Counter-Cultural Satire

R, 11-29

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

In Class Activity: Pynchon's Plowshares

Week 16

T, 12-4

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (NAAL2 1116-81)

Exam Topics

R, 12-6

Brooks, poems (NAAL2 1300-3)

Rich, poems (NAAL2 1414-26)


F, 12-14

Final Exam