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


American Literary Consciousness from Huck Finn to Fight Club

English 312-75: American Literature II

Spring 2006, MW 7:00-8:15PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 103


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Office: Bingham Humanities Bldg 335A
Mailbox: Bingham Humanities Bldg 315 Office Hours: MW 3:30-5:00PM
Email: alex.blazer@louisville.edu Office Phone: 852-2185
Web: www.louisville.edu/~a0blaz01/ Departmental Phone: 852-6801


Course Description


Only after disaster can we be resurrected.

"It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."

—Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club


English 312 is an introductory course of American literature since 1865. The course fulfills requirements for the English major and minor as wel as a General Education Arts and Humanities requirement and is graded on the plus/minus scale. 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 140 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, a research paper, and two exams. I want you to do well in this class. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, turn assignments in on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty.


Course Materials



Baym, ed., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th ed., Vols C-E (UofL bookstore)

Palahniuk, Fight Club (UofL bookstore)

course packet (online)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


1 discussion board response, 5%

In two pages, 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 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


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. If I feel that the majority of the class isn't participating because students are not keeping up with the reading, I will give pop quizzes that will force me to reweight the grade distribution.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course. 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. When emailing me or any instructor, observe etiquette by including a salutation such as Dr. Blazer (though you may address me as Alex if you wish), using standard written English, and signing your name. I respond to student email once per weekday, and I do not use Blackboard's messages feature.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for some assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review my Blackboard Basics handout.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond four days. Therefore, missing five class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing eight classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the four days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your four days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day, not class period, for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days, not class periods, of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout.


Do not 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. Plagiarism can result in a failing grade for the assignment or the course and will be reported to the College of Arts & Sciences for further action, which can include notice in the permanent record, dismissal, or expulsion. I have recently caught seven plagiarists: six failed their respective courses, three did not graduate with their class, and one no longer attends UofL. Do not plagiarize.

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness.

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, writing@louisville.edu, 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, 1-9


W, 1-11

1865-1914 (Realism and Regionalism) (1-16)

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

Week 2
M, 1-16
No Class: Martin Luther King Day
W, 1-18
Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (219-407)
Week 3
M, 1-23

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

W, 1-25

Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper" (831-44)

Week 4
M, 1-30
Chopin, The Awakening (633-722)
W, 2-1
Chopin, continued
Week 5
M, 2-6

1914-1945 (Modernism) (1071-86)

Stevens (1234-50)

W, 2-8

Crane (1801-45)

Week 6

M, 2-13

Stein (1150-74 and online)

W, 2-15
Exam 1
Week 7
M, 2-20

McKay (1456-61)

W, 2-22

Wright, "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" (1925-34)

Fitzgerald, "Babylon Revisited" (1658-72)

Week 8
M, 2-27

Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1693-1789)

Research Paper Prompt

Literary Research

W, 3-1

Faulkner, continued

Week 9
M, 3-6

O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night (1338-1416)

W, 3-8

O'Neill, continued

Literature Since 1945 (Postmodernism) (1953-65, 2637-51)

Week 10
M, 3-13
No Class: Spring Break
W, 3-15
No Class: Spring Break
Week 11
M, 3-20

No Class: Professor Out of Town

W, 3-22

Plath (2967-78)

Berryman (2749-69)

MLA Style

Week 12
M, 3-27

Ginsberg (2863-77)

W, 3-29

Miller, Death of a Salesman (2109-75)

First Day to turn in Research Paper

Week 13
M, 4-3

Baraka, "Dutchman" (2299-320)

W, 4-5

Morrison, "Recitatif" (2252-67)

Week 14
M, 4-10

Coover, "The Babysitter" (online)

W, 4-12

Pynchon, "Entropy" (2355-66)

Last Day to turn in Research Paper

Week 15
M, 4-17

Palahniuk, Fight Club

W, 4-19
Palahniuk, continued
M, 4-24
No Class: Extended Office Hours 4:30-7:30
W, 4-26
Exam 2 Due