Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Syllabus
  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

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

Blackboard Post: You will respond to a reading, and post your response to our course discussion board at Blackboard > Assignments > Article Summaries. The response should

Informal Presentation: You will also be responsible for a brief, informal presentation which introduces the key issues and possible themes of the text as you see them and also broaches issues for class discussion.


Due Dates:

  1. Your discussion board response will be due in Blackboard > Assignments > Discussion Board Response on the Wednesday before we discuss an essay in class. If you do not submit your response to Blackboard before the text is discussed in class, you will fail the assignment.
  2. Your brief, informal presentation will be due on the day we discuss the reading in class. This date is approximate for we sometimes fall a day behind.
  3. I will return your graded response to you in Blackboard > My Grades > Discussion Board Response by the Friday of the week we discussed the article in class.
  4. For example, we are scheduled to discuss James on Monday, 1-23. Therefore, Zachary Smith's summary will be due in Blackboard > Assignments > Discussion Board Response by Wednesday, 1-18. In class on Monday, 1-23, Zachary will informally present his reading of James' story.

Note: It is your responsibility to remember to post your response on time.



Due Date


Due Date


Reading Student
M, 1-16 W, 1-18 Twain

Reed Troutman

W, 1-18 M, 1-23 James Zachary Smith
W, 1-25 Gilman Laura Whitworth
W, 1-25 M, 1-30 Chopin Mia Coleman
Nicole Mitchell
W, 2-1 M, 2-6 Stevens Jessica Osborne
W, 2-8 Crane Dorothy Cochran
Megan Freedman
W, 2-8 M, 2-13 Stein Thomas Decker
W, 2-15 M, 2-20 McKay Brian Young
W, 2-22 Wright Dee Amber Jasin
Fitzgerald none
W, 2-22 M, 2-27 Faulkner Malloree Collins
Sarah Elise Williams
W, 3-1 M, 3-6 O'Neill Matthew J. Smith
Kristin Metzger
W, 3-8 none none none
W, 3-15 M, 3-20 Berryman Alex Durall
W, 3-22 Plath James Gandenberger
W, 3-22 M, 3-27 Ginsberg Jessica Wilkinson
W, 3-29 Miller Sarah Calhoun
Jesse Houk
W, 3-29 M, 4-3 Baraka Magen Miller
Ben Unwin
W, 4-5 Morrison Samantha Lowery
W, 4-5 M, 4-10 Coover Jennifer McIlwain
Laura Wells
W, 4-12 Pynchon Kevin Metcalf
Jessica Santos
W, 4-12 M, 4-17 Palahniuk Jonathan Brett
Simon Sangpukdee

Review for In-Class Exam

The first exam will consist of two essays answered in one 75 minute class period. 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. Sarah Orne Jewett, "A White Heron"
  2. Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  3. Henry James, "Daisy Miller: A Study"
  4. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"
  5. Kate Chopin, The Awakening
  6. Wallace Stevens, poetry
  7. Hart Crane, poetry
  8. Gertrude Stein, from The Making of Americans and Tender Buttons

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 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 literary research (3-4 scholarly journal articles, books, or book chapters) to support your argument. 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 six authors across two literary movements in a timed, closed book setting, the take-home final exam allows you one week to formulate your comparative discussion of four authors using the textual evidence an open book exam affords. 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 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.