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


American Literary Consciousness

English 312-01: American Literature II

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


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 335A
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MW 2:00-3:00PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-2185
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


All human effort, it seemed to me, aimed at a single end: to bring to life the storied curve we tell ourselves. Not so much to make the tale believable but only to touch it, stretch out in it. I had a story I wanted to tell M. Something about a remarkable, an inconceivable machine. One that learned to live.

—Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2


English 312 is an introductory course of 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 (regionalism and realism), 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 139 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, two exams, and a research paper. Note that this class is graded on the plus and minus letter grade scale.


Course Materials



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

Powers, Richard, Galatea 2.2

online course packet


Assignments and Grade Distribution


1 discussion board response, 5%

In 400-500 words, you will respond to one of the works of literature by discussing theme and raising issues for class discussion.

2 exams, 25% and 35%, sequentially

Essay exams will test your knowledge of the evolving American literary consciousness. Questions will ask you to make connections and distinctions among authors, texts, and periods. The first exam will be taken in class while the second exam will be taken at home.

1 paper, 35%

In 6-8 pages or 1500-2000 words and using 3-5 works of scholarly criticism, your MLA styled research paper will analyze a topic or text more closely and deeply than we had time to cover in class.


Course Policies


Office Hours

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.


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. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond six days. Therefore, if you miss seven days, you can only earn a B, at best, in the course; if you miss ten days, you will automatically fail the course.

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 on page 17 of the 2004-2006 Undergraduate Catalog for further information. Proven plagiarism can result in a failing grade for the assignment or the course and will be reported to the Dean of the College 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, 8-23


W, 8-25

Unit 1: 1865-1914 (Realism and Regionalism)

Introduction and Timeline (1-16)

Whitman (17-165, selections)

F, 8-27

Dickinson (166-211, selections)

Week 2
M, 8-30
Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (219-407)
W, 9-1
Twain, continued
F, 9-3
Twain, concluded
Week 3
M, 9-6
No Class: Labor Day
W, 9-8

James, "Daisy Miller: A Study" (465-505)

F, 9-10

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

Week 4
M, 9-13

Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"

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

W, 9-15
Chopin, The Awakening (620-1, 633-722)
F, 9-17

Chopin, continued

Week 5
M, 9-20

Washington, from Up from Slavery (744-79)

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

W, 9-22
Washington and Du Bois, concluded
F, 9-24

Unit 2: 1914-1945 (Modernism)

Introduction and Timeline (1071-86)

Frost (1174-1201)

Week 6

M, 9-27

Moore (1325-37)

W, 9-29

Stein, Introduction to The Making of Americans

"Objects" from Tender Buttons (1150-73)

Tender Buttons (complete, online)

F, 10-1
Stevens (1234-1250)
Week 7
M, 10-4

McKay (1456-1461)

W, 10-6
Hughes (1891-1900)
F, 10-8
catch up day and exam review
Week 8
M, 10-11
No Class: Mid-term Break
W, 10-13
Exam 1, Part 1
F, 10-15
Exam 1, Part 2
Week 9
M, 10-18
O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night (1338-1416)
W, 10-20
O'Neill, continued
F, 10-22
Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1693-1789)
Week 10
M, 10-25

Faulkner, concluded

W, 10-27

Unit 3: Literature Since 1945 (Postmodernism and the Contemporary)

Poetry: Introduction and Timeline (2637-51)

Lowell (2761-77)

F, 10-29

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 11
M, 11-1

Lowell, continued

Literary Research Methods

MLA Style

W, 11-3

Plath (2967-2978)

F, 11-5

Ginsberg (2863-77)

Week 12
M, 11-8

Prose: Introduction and Timeline (1953-1965)

Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (2508-41)

W, 11-10

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

F, 11-12

Parks, "The American Play" (2606-2636)

Week 13
M, 11-15

Morrison, "Recitatif" (2252-67)

W, 11-17

Silko, "Lullaby" (2542-50)

F, 11-19

Barthleme, "The Balloon" (2247-51)

Coover, "The Babysitter" (online)

Week 14
M, 11-22

Pynchon, "Entropy" (2355-66)

Research Paper Due

W, 11-24
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
F, 11-26
No Class: Thanksgiving Break
Week 15
M, 11-29
Powers, Galatea 2.2
W, 12-1
Powers, continued
F, 12-3

Powers, concluded

Exam 2 Assigned

Week 16
M, 12-6
No Class: Reading Day
W, 12-8
No Class: Reading Day
F, 12-10
No Class: Reading Day
T, 12-14
Exam 2 Due by 5:00PM