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


American Literary Consciousness

English 312-01: American Literature II

Fall 2003, MWF 1:00-1:50PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 101


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 318B
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MWF: 12:00-12:50PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-5920
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


For it was now like walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and ones twinned above,hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless.  Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be a transcendent meaning, or only the earth.

—Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49


English 312 is an introductory course for American literature since 1865. Besides fulfilling requirements for the English major and minor, it also fulfills a General Education Arts and Humanities requirement. 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 at up to the turn of the last century, writing between the wars (modernism), and writing post-World War II (postmodernism). Of course, we'll only catch a glimpse of these writers and these movements; however, through encounters with recurrent themes and issues among various authors, by the end of the course we'll attempt to build a general understanding of the motion of American literature over the last 138 years.  Among our methods for accomplishing this formidable, but nonetheless achievable, task will be extensive reading, class discussion, in class group work, three exams, and a final paper. Note that this class is graded on the plus and minus letter grade scale.


Course Materials



The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th ed., Vols C, D, and E

Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49


Assignments and Grade Distribution


3 exams, 20%, 25%, and 30% sequentially

Essay exams will test your knowledge of the evolving American literary consciousness. Although later exams will focus on the time period at hand, some questions will ask you to make connections and distinctions between periods.

1 paper, 25%

In 5-7 pages or 1250-1750 words and using 3-5 works of scholarly criticism, analyze a topic or text more closely and deeply than we had time to cover in class. Use MLA format. Click here for more details.


Course Policies


Office Hours and 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 small questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. I don't regularly check my email on weekends.

Class Participation

We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our questions and ideas. To facilitate that process, I ask that you come to class prepared with tentative answers to the study questions as well as a list of issues you wish to discuss about the day's reading. A bit of an internet addict myself, I recognize that the computers can be quite tempting; however, refrain from using them for email and surfing during class lecture and discussion. Finally, if I feel that the majority of the class isn't participating because they're not keeping up with the reading or not attending, I will give pop quizzes that will force me to reweight the grade distribution.


Regular attendance and participation in class discussion is crucial in order to adequately work through the ideas and texts of a fast-paced survey course. We're going to cover a lot of ground, so missing class will leave you with insufficient preparation for the exams and paper. If you don't come to class prepare to discuss the study quesions, you will not earn high marks in the class.

Late Assignments

There will be a one-letter grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late unless a valid excuse (university athletic competion, jury duty, illness with doctor's note, and so forth) is provided.


Don't do it. Using someone else's words, ideas, or work without proper citation and representing it as your own is the most serious of academic offenses. See the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, sections 5 and 6 in the Undergraduate Catalog. Any proven plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question and will be reported to the Committee on Student Discipline for further action, which can include notice in the permanent record, dismissal, or expulsion.

Disabilities Resource Center

If you have any specific needs or concerns, please feel free to discuss the issue with me outside of class.  Contact the Disabilities Resource Center (Robbins Hall, 852-6938) for information and auxiliary aid.

Writing Center

The Writing Center (Ekstrom Library, Room 312, 852-2173) provides drop-in assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.


Course Schedule


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


Week 1
M, 8-25


W, 8-27

Unit 1: 1865-1914 (Realism)

Introduction and Timeline (1-16)

Whitman (17-165, selections)

F, 8-29
Dickinson (166-211, selections)
Week 2
M, 9-1
No Class: Labor Day
W, 9-3

Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (219-407)

F, 9-5
Twain, continued
Week 3
M, 9-8
Twain, continued
W, 9-10

Jewett, "A White Heron" (595-603)

Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"

"Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wall-paper'?" (831-44)

F, 9-12

Jewett and Gilman, continued

Week 4
M, 9-15

Chopin, The Awakening (620-1, 633-722)

W, 9-17
Chopin, continued
F, 9-19

Washington, from Up from Slavery (744-79)

Du Bois, from The Souls of Black Folk (876-900)

Week 5
M, 9-22
Washington and DuBois continued
W, 9-24
exam review
F, 9-26
Exam 1

Week 6

M, 9-29

Unit 2: 1914-1945 (Modernism)

Introduction and Timeline (1071-86)

Stein, Introduction to The Making of Americans

"Objects" from Tender Buttons (1150-73)

Frost (1174-1201)

W, 10-1

Stein and Frost, continued

F, 10-3

Stevens (1234-1250)

Williams (1263-80)

Week 7
M, 10-6

Stevens and Williams, continued

W, 10-8
Stevens and Williams, continued
F, 10-10

Pound (1281-1301)

Week 8
M, 10-13
No Class: Fall Break
W, 10-15

Pound, continued

Pound, continued

F, 10-17

Pound, continued

Week 9
M, 10-20

Eliot (1417-1451)

W, 10-22
Eliot, continued
F, 10-24

McKay (1456-1461)

Week 10
M, 10-27

Hughes (1891-1900)

T, 11-4
Recitation on Modernist Poetry 8:30PM in Bingham Humanities 101
W, 10-29

Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1693-1789)

F, 10-31
Faulkner, continued
Week 11
M, 11-3

Exam 2

W, 11-5

Unit 3: Literature Since 1945 (Postmodernism)

film screening: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951; 122min)

F, 11-7

film screening: A Streetcar Named Desire, continued

(professor at conference)

Week 12
M, 11-10

film screening: A Streetcar Named Desire, continued

Introduction and Timeline (1953-65)

W, 11-12

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (1976-2040)

F, 11-14

Williams, continued

Week 13
M, 11-17

Baraka, "Dutchman" and poems (2299-320)

W, 11-19

Introduction and Timeline (2637-51)

Lowell (2761-77)

F, 11-21

Ginsberg (2863-77)

Week 14
M, 11-24
Plath (2967-78)
W, 11-26
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
F, 11-28
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
Week 15
M, 12-1

Pynchon, "Entropy" (2355-66)

The Crying of Lot 49 (180 total)

Paper Due

W, 12-3

Pynchon, continued

F, 12-5

Pynchon, continued

Week 16
M, 12-8

No Class: Take-Home Final Exam Due by 7:00PM