Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


American Literary Consciousness from Huck Finn to House of Leaves

English 226.01: American Literature II: from 1860

Fall 2007, Wednesday 6:00-8:50PM, 1116 AuSable Hall


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Phone: 331-3373
Office and Mailbox: 123 Lake Huron Hall Email: blazera@gvsu.edu

Office Hours: M 11:00-11:50AM and

F 11:00-12:50

Web: http://faculty.gvsu.edu/blazera/


Course Description


Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves


Too bad dark languages rarely survive.

—Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves


English 226 is an introductory course of American literature since 1860. As a survey course, we'll engage a multitude of writers and literary movements from various time periods. For practicality's sake, we'll approach the literature according to three time periods—writing up to and just after the turn of the last century (regionalism, realism, and naturalism), writing between the wars (modernism), and writing post-World War II (postmodernism and the contemporary)—and three genres—poetry, fiction, and drama. Of course, we'll only catch a glimpse of these writers and these movements; however, through encounters with recurrent themes and issues, by the end of the course we'll build a general understanding of the motion of American literature over the last 146 years. Among our methods for accomplishing this formidable, but nonetheless achievable, task will be extensive reading (be prepared to read upwards of 1400 pages this semester), class discussion, in class group work, a discussion board, one or two exams, a short paper, and a research paper. I want you to do well in this class. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, submit assignments on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty. Note that this course's prerequisite is completion of the freshman writing requirement. This course fulfills a Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) requirement.


Course Materials


required (GVSU Bookstore and Amazon.com)

McMichael, ed. et al, Anthology of American Literature, 9th ed., Vol. II

Danielewski, House of Leaves

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, Norton Critical Ed.

required (online)

course packet

recommended (GVSU Bookstore and Amazon.com)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


discussion board response, 5%

In two-three pages, you will respond to one of the works of literature by discussing theme and raising issues for class discussion.

peer response, 5%

Groups of 4-5 will respond to their peers' first drafts of the short paper and research paper.

short paper, 25%

In the short paper, you will thematically compare and contrast two works of late nineteenth-century literature.

research paper, 35%

In 6-8 pages and using 3-5 works of scholarly criticism, your MLA styled research paper will analyze a modernist author or text more closely and deeply than we had time to cover in class.

exam, 30%

The take-home final exam will test your knowledge of the evolving American literary consciousness by asking you to make connections and distinctions among modernist and postmodernist authors, texts, and periods.


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. We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; 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 a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. 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 email etiquette.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review both my Blackboard Basics and IT's Blackboard Help.


Because we are meeting only one day per week, attendance is vital. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond two days. Therefore, missing three class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing six classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the two days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your two days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences. You can check your attendance online by looking for your course number and the last four digits of your student identification number.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout.

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 sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request 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. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. Section 223.01 of the Student Code states: "Any ideas or material taken from another source for either written or oral presentation must be fully acknowledged. Offering the work of someone else as one's own is plagiarism. The language or ideas taken from another may range from isolated formulas, sentences, or paragraphs to entire articles copied from books, periodicals, speeches or the writings of other students. The offering of materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment also is considered plagiarism. Any student who fails to give credit in written or oral work for the ideas or materials that have been taken from another is guilty of plagiarism." As a general rule, I fail plagiarized assignments, and so plagiarists usually fail the course as well.

Failure 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.


The deadline withdrawing from a class is Friday, October 19 at 5:00PM.

Disabilities Support Center

If there is any student in this class who has special needs because of a learning, physical, or other ability, please contact me and Disabilities Support Services (DSS) at 616-331-2490. Furthermore, if you have a disability and think you will need assistance evacuating this classroom and/or building in an emergency situation, please make me aware so I can develop a plan to assist you.

Center for Writing

The Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors provides appointment, walk-in, and instant messenger assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.

Supplemental Writing Skills

This course is designated SWS. Completion of WRT 150 with a grade of C or better (not C-) is a prerequisite. SWS credit will not be given to a student who completes this course before completing the prerequisite. SWS courses adhere to certain guidelines. Students turn in a total of at least 3000 words of writing. Part of that total may be essay exams, but a substantial amount of it is made up of essays, reports, or research papers. The instructor works with the students on revising drafts of papers, rather than simply grading the finished piece of writing. At least four hours of class time will be devoted to writing instruction. At least one third of the final grade in the course is based on the writing assignments.


Course Schedule


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


Week 1
W, 8-29

The Literature of the Late Nineteenth Century (1-11)

Whitman (selections, 54-187)

Dickinson (selections, 188-220)

In Class Activity: Dickinson

Week 2
W, 9-5

Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism Definitions (online)

Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism Lecture

Freeman, "A New England Nun" and "A Mistaken Charity" (444-60)

Jewett, "A White Heron" and "The Town Poor" (461-75)

Chestnut, "The Goophered Grapevine" and "The Wife of His Youth" (496-513)

Week 3
W, 9-12

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (248-425)

James, "Daisy Miller: A Study" (541-78)

Week 4
W, 9-19

Crane, "The Open Boat" (778-93)

Norris, "A Deal in Wheat" (795-802)

London, "The Law of Life" and "To Build a Fire" (803-18)

Week 5
W, 9-26

The Literature of the Twentieth Century (1900 to 1945) (981-91)

Modernism Lecture

Modernism Definition (online)

Howe, "The Idea of the Modern" (online)

Eliot (1307-33)

In Class Activity: Eliot

Paper 1 Prompt

Week 6

W, 10-3

H.D. (online)

Williams (1395-1409)

Longenbach, "Modern Poetry" (online)

Nelson, "Modern American Poetry" (online)

MLA Style

Week 7
W, 10-10

Paper 1 Draft 1 Due

Locke, ed., from The New Negro (1420-45)

Cullen (1445-51)

Hughes (1562-70)

In Class Activity: The New Negro

Week 8
W, 10-17

Glasgow, "The Difference" (1153-67)

Fitzgerald, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "Winter Dreams" (1481-1514)

Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (online)

Paper 1 Peer Response

Week 9
W, 10-24

Faulkner, "That Evening Sun" (1529-41)

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Trotter, "The Modernist Novel" (online)

Paper 2 Prompt

Paper 1 Draft 2 Due (Optional)

Week 10
W, 10-31

O'Neill, The Hairy Ape (1229-58)

Glaspell,Trfles (1259-1269)

Innis, "Modernism in Drama" (online)

Literary Research Methods

Week 11
W, 11-7

The Literature of the Twentieth Century (1945 to Present) (1593-1606)

Connor, "Postmodernism and Literature" (online)

Sim, "Postmodernism and Philosophy" (online)

Postmodernism Lecture

Postmodernism Definition (online)

Plath (1839-48)

Ginsberg (1801-14)

Research Paper List/Copies of Sources Due

Week 12
W, 11-14

Williams, The Glass Menagerie (1684-1729)

Wilson, Fences (2301-2352)

Research Paper Draft 1 Due

Week 13
W, 11-21

No Class: Thanksgiving Recess

Week 14
W, 11-28

Danielewski, House of Leaves (read the first half)

Barth, "Lost in the Funhouse" (online)

Lewis, "Postmodernism and Fiction" (online)

Exam Prompt

In Class Activity: Danielewski's House of Leaves

Paper 2 Peer Response Due

Week 15
W, 12-5

Danielewski, House of Leaves (read the second half)

Coover, "The Phantom of the Movie Palace" (online)

In Class Activity: Barth, Coover, Danielewski

Paper 2 Draft 2 Due (Optional)

W, 12-12

Take-Home Final Exam due by 8:50PM