Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Syllabus
Selected Reading Study Questions Discussion Board Repsonse
Exam Review Research Paper Final Exam


American Literary Consciousness

English 312-01: American Literature II

Fall 2004, MWF 12:00-12:50PM, Life Sciences 101

Selected Reading

The Norton Anthology offers over 150 pages of writing by Whitman and over 40 pages by Dickinson. I encourage you to read all of these poems, but we'll only have time to examine a limited number of them in class. Please be prepared to discuss the following texts.


Walt Whitman

Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)

"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

"Song of Myself" (1881) [note: not the 1855 version]

Emily Dickinson

67 [Success is counted sweetest]

185 ["Faith" is a fine invention]

258 [There's a certain Slant of light]

280 [I felt a Funeral, in my Brain]

324 [Some keep the Sabbath going to Church—]

341 [After great pain, a formal feeling comes—]

448 [This was a Poet—It is that]

465 [I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—]

536 [The Heart asks Pleasure—first—]

547 [I've seen a Dying Eye]

712 [Because I could not stop for Death—]

1126 [Shall I take thee, the Poet said]

Study Questions

It's easy to get behind in a fast-moving survey course. In order to actively keep up with the reading and prepare for class discussion, I suggest the following strategy:

  1. Read the author biographies in the Norton anthology, for they often frame the themes of the selected texts.
  2. Peruse anthology's companion website, The Norton Anthology of American Literature.
  3. Take notes while you're reading, either in the margins or in a notebook (highlighting doesn't count).
  4. Record at least three significant or favorite passages for each work.
  5. Read your peers' discussion board responses on Blackboard.
  6. Answer the study questions, which will typically be available the Friday before the work will be discussed. I suggest writing a short, informal response and citing key passages in the text that support your response.

Actively keeping up with the reading in this manner will serve you well on the exams and the final paper.

Discussion Board Response

Each student in the course will respond to one work of literature. Consequently, with fifty students in the course, the class should have two responses for most texts we read. These discussion board responses serve three goals:

  1. to actively engage you in these texts,
  2. to help your peers understand these texts even as they're reading them,
  3. to broach issues for class discussion.

Spend approximately 1/3 of your response summarizing the text and 2/3 tentatively analyzing, interpreting, and determining the meaning of the text. If you've sign up for a poet, feel free to closely read just one poem or two. Conclude your response with one or two issues for class discussion. Your discussion board response, of 400-500 words will be due the Friday before we discuss a reading in class.


Sign up for one slot. Post your response, attached in Microsoft Word only, to Blackboard > Discussion Board by 12:00PM on the due date, usually the Friday before the work will be discussed in class. I'll return your graded response to you in Blackboard > View Grades > Discussion Board Response approximately one week after you post your response. Click the "0" link to open up your grade. Your graded paper is the attached file in section 3 Feedback to Student.


Note: It is your job to remember to post your response; so bookmark this web page. If you forget to post your response, you won't receive a second chance.


Week Due Reading Student
Week 1 M, 8-30 Twain [note the special Monday due date]

Asa Glass

Amanda Stickler
Week 2 F, 9-3 James  
Week 3 F, 9-10 Gilman Elizabeth Blandford
Ashley Merkle
Chopin Jessica Hickerson
Week 4 F, 9-17 Washington

Toya Ballenger

Orion Bazzell
Du Bois Noah Glass
Dalton Holt
Frost Alisa Atkinson
Week 5 F, 9-24 Moore Ashley Revlett
Stein Derek Sharp
Stephanie Simmons

Week 6

F, 10-1 McKay Todd McGraw
Hughes Sandy Myjak
La'Trice Majors
Week 7      
Week 8 F, 10-15 O'Neill

Robert Durall

Daniel Hammond
Faulkner Charlie Mingus
Week 9 F, 10-22 Lowell

Julie Arneson

John Wozencraft
Week 11 F, 10-29 Plath

Aletha Maupin

Scott Shreffler
Ginsberg Joseph Hocog

Mike Minton

Elizabeth Saylor
Ashbery Sunnye Paris
Week 12 F, 11-5 Mamet Clint Bray
Christy C. Roy
Baraka Leah Gallagher
Ha Phan
Parks Michael Gunsiorowski
Week 13 F, 11-12 Morrison Cynthia Fields
Terri Hull
Paul Logsdon
Sarah Weller
Silko Emily Clevinger
Tracey Goosey
Coover Shelby Dogan
Kathrine Graham
Week 14 F, 11-19 Pynchon Michael Black
Week 15 F, 11-26 Powers Jessica Burns
Suzanne Moffitt
Sunnye Paris
T. Ryan Reynolds
Week 16      

Review for In-Class Exam

The first exam will consist of 2-4 essays taken over the course of 2 days of 50 minute classes. Each of the essays will ask you to discuss a literary period or theme by using authors and texts from the course. THe goal of the exam is for you show your understanding of literary periods and the transition between periods by being able to make comparisons and contrasts among works of literature. Although you will not have to write about every author we have covered, you should be prepared to effectively discuss more than half of them:

  1. Walt Whitman
  2. Emily Dickinson
  3. Mark Twain
  4. Henry James
  5. Sarah Orne Jewett
  6. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  7. Kate Chopin
  8. Booker T. Washington
  9. W. E. B. Du Bois
  10. Robert Frost
  11. Gertrude Stein
  12. Marianne Moore
  13. Wallace Stevens
  14. Claude McKay
  15. Langston Hughes

If I were preparing for this exam, I would create and review a separate page of notes for each period and movement consisting of the following:

I would also create and review a page of notes for each author consisting of the following:

Although you could simply review your original class notes, I advise composing these set of notes for doing so attunes your thinking and writing process to the cause of the exam in a much more active way than using old notes. Constructing notes is prewriting for the essay exam.

Research Paper

You've explored authors and their works in study questions and class discussion. You've come to general conclusions about the nature of the period in the midterm exam; and you will do so again in the final exam. Now, you can devote an entire paper to one author, to one work. Select a work of literature (or two or three closely related essays, poems, or short stories) that we've read in class. See me if you want to pursue a text not covered. In a focused, thesis-driven paper, rigorously interpret and analyze that piece using specific textual evidence, i.e., quotes, and 3-4 scholarly journal articles, books, or book chapters to support your interpretation (Click here to learn how to conduct literary research at UofL). Although this is a research paper, the emphasis should be on your ideas, your way of reading the text; the research is necesary but of secondary importance: do not let it overwhelm your voice. I'll be glad to discuss paper topics with you at any time.

Take-Home Final Exam

While the first exam required you to examine eight authors across two literary movements in a timed, closed book setting, the final exam allows you two weeks to formulate your comparative discussion of six authors. Answer either two essay questions from Group A or just one essay question from Group B. Use an individual author only once in the exam. Organize essays by argument and analysis. Have a controlling idea, an interpretation, a thesis that bridges the three or six authors. Support your points with textual evidence (explanation, paraphrase, and/or quotes) but avoid plot summary. Make connections and distinctions between the texts; in other words, compare and contrast the authors and their world views.