Georgia O’Keefe, Line and Curve (1927)
This course will examine American literature from 1900-1960, a period of tremendous change in American culture. We will explore how certain paradigms of American identity are challenged / reinforced / examined / sublimated in the literature during this tumultuous period. We will also explore how American modernist literature is in conversation with (and sometimes in conflict with) the broader Modernist movement. And finally we will seek to understand how the American modernist style is a deeply complicated and fraught response to the rapid and complex changes wrought by modernity in early twentieth century America. For further inquiry into how those changes continued to affect twentieth-century America, students may consider enrolling in American Dreaming (ENGL 2149) after completion of American Modern; American Dreaming will cover mid to late twentieth century and early twenty-first century American literature.
To provide students with a deep understanding of an important period in American literature; to broaden their understanding of American twentieth century cultural conflicts; to expand their knowledge of modernism; to improve their reading, writing, analytical and research skills.
We will meet for three hours every Thursday afternoon (1:30-4:20pm), with a short break in the middle. On-time attendance is expected at every meeting. I will take attendance at the beginning of class. Late arrival will be noted. More than 2 lates and more than 2 absences will affect your overall grade for the class. Our meetings will include lecture, open class discussion, group workshop projects, and oral presentations by individual students.
Assessment is by 100% coursework, consisting of:
Reading Responses (2 short essays): 25%
Class Participation / Moodle Assignments / Group Workshops: 20%
Oral Presentation: 25%
Final Essay: 30%
Excerpts from Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery (1901)
Excerpts from W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (1913)
Selected stories from Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time (1925)
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” (1957)
Please note: An American Modernism bibliography and critical articles relevant to each text will be posted to the ENGL 2139 Moodle website.
Students are expected to arrive on time. I will start promptly at 1:30am. If you are late, please see me during the break so that I can record you as late instead of as absent. Please turn your mobile phone to silent during the lecture. You are welcome to take notes on your computer but please do not use it for other purposes – it’s distracting for everyone. Thoughtful and active participation during the lecture is expected during class discussions and small group workshops.
I will post all relevant information and supplementary readings for the course on Moodle. Please check it regularly.
The 1250-1500 word final essay is due May 11, 2022. If your paper is late, your grade will go down one mark per day. Extensions on the due date can be arranged in advance.
Plagiarism is “the unacknowledged use, as one’s own, of the work of another person, whether or not such work has been published.” (Regulations Governing Conduct at Examinations). You cannot use another scholar’s words or ideas or examples without giving him/her attribution. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will receive an F for that assignment and may well receive an F for the class. You are also liable to disciplinary action by the Faculty of Arts. It is a serious offense and will be treated seriously.