Focuses on reading, discussion, and written analysis of American literature since 1900 in order to understand its meaning and its relation to the development of American thought and tradition. Themes include alienation, materialism, race relations, identity, conformity/rebellion, technology, environment, and war.
Goals, Topics, and Objectives
- Introduction to literary terms and methods of discussing literature.
- Modern American fiction before 1945.
- Modern American poetry before 1945.
- Modern American drama.
- American prose since 1945.
- American poetry since 1945.
Students should be able to accomplish the following:
Formulate an interpretive thesis (as opposed to one which merely reports something factual about a literary text).
Compose an essay which either
- analyzes a literary text, for example by focusing on literary elements such as theme, character, setting, point of view, plot, imagery, metaphor, symbolism, etc., or
- analyzes the characteristic themes, features, and / or techniques of a given writer's works, or
- analyzes more than one literary text by comparing and contrasting works by more than one American writer of this period.
Identify some of the key literary terms that are essential to an introductory-level understanding of American literature since 1900.
Identify features in a given text that would commonly be considered typical of American literature since 1900. These features might include 1) literary experimentation, such as stream-of consciousness, use of multiple narrators, open-endedness, fragmentary structure, self-referentiality, mixture of high and low culture, etc.; and 2) political positions such as feminism, internationalism, multiculturalism, social protest, etc.
Explain the crucial importance and /or distinctive achievement of some of the key American poets, playwrights, and prose writers since 1900.
Identify and analyze principal works and passages reflecting some of the following pivotal themes: alienation, rural vs. urban life, materialism, race relations, identity, conformity/rebellion, technology, environment, and war.
Note that a grade of C- is not transferrable and is not accepted by some programs at HFC
Assessment and Requirements
Assessment may include (but need not be limited to) quizzes, class participation, essays, and exams. But assessment must include a minimum of 2,000 words of formal literary analysis.
- Students will write at least one out-of-class essay of literary analysis that is at least 1,200 words in length.
- Students will take at least one written exam which requires them to analyze literature; whether a single essay or multiple shorter responses, this expository component will count for at least half of the credit for that exam.
Students will read substantial and representative selections from key American poets, playwrights, and prose writers since 1900, such as Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, David Mamet, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, and Sandra Cisneros, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, T. S, Eliot, Langston Hughes, e. e. cummings, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Penn Warren, John Ashbery, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Gary Snyder, and Robert Pinsky.
Students will read a substantial and representative selection of literary texts that explore the following key themes: alienation, rural vs. urban life, materialism, race relations, identity, conformity/rebellion, technology, environment, and war.
Students will regularly engage in thoughtful discussion of the assigned readings.
Students will study (through assigned readings and / or classroom discussion) the cultural contexts from which the literature emerges.
Students will study concepts that are essential to an introductory-level understanding of American literature since 1900, such as character, conflict, plot, setting, theme, symbol, point of view, metaphor, rhyme, meter, allusion, irony, autobiography, essay, short story, novel, lyric poetry, realism, naturalism, Imagism, the Lost Generation, modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, the absurd, the Beats, postmodernism, the antihero, and multiculturalism.
Students should learn appropriate biographical information about assigned writers when such information could be helpful in understanding the literature.
Students should take quizzes on assigned readings.
Students should keep a journal in which they record their responses to assigned readings and class discussions.
Students should learn to place the major assigned writers and texts on an historical time line.
Students should satisfactorily read at least one poem or passage aloud, either in class or in the instructor’s office.
Instructors should welcome and support the diverse identities, backgrounds, and academic experience of our students as essential foundations for college community.