of American Fiction
Dr. Kristi Siegel
Associate Professor - English
Mount Mary College
ENG 235 - M & W - 10:00 - 11:50 am
Office Hours: M & W: 1:00 - 2:00 pm and by appointment
(414) 258-4810, ext. 461
preferred contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
general website: www.kristisiegel.com
"Baseball to me is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people." —Steve Busby
Materials and Text:
- Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth.
- Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man.
- Roth, Philip. Good-bye, Columbus.
- Charters, Ann. Ed. The American Short Story and Its Writing. Bedford-St. Martins.
Note Regarding Online Syllabus:
I've included links to supplementary information on authors and time periods/literary periods throughout the syllabus. Also, when possible, links to the assignments are embedded (as Word documents).
The Development of American Fiction looks at the changes in American narrative from 1800 to the present and considers what might be distinctly “American” about American literature. The course focuses on historical and cultural influences, literary movements, the short story and novel as distinct genres, and major figures such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and so forth. Further, the course presents literature that reveals and emerges from multiple perspectives, e.g., those of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, historical period, etc.
- To understand the major themes and ideas underpinning American literature from 1800 to the present;
- To understand the short story and novel as artistic forms;
- To understand basic literary concepts and terms;
- To consider how narrative has changed in the past two centuries;
- To appreciate the various intellectual/cultural trends in effect, e.g., Romanticism, Naturalism, Realism, etc., and how these movements affected narrative;
- To consider the historical/sociological climate in which literature is produced;
- To see the diverse perspectives presented in literature; and
- To learn how to speak and write articulately about literature and its implications.
- Scope of course.
- Why study literature? Development of novel and short story. What’s novel about the novel? Why is the short story short? Discussion.
- Themes of American fiction.
- Early American literature. Discussion.
Early Nineteenth Century (1819-1860)
Jan 29 - Romanticism, Allegory, and the Puritan Heritage
- Nathaniel Hawthorne (website)– Rappaccini’s Daughter” – An Online Study Guide - http://pilgrims.net/plymouth/schools/Rappaccinis_Daughter/
- Video recording (Monterey Home Video – CUW PZ1.A43 R36 1987) Old Manse – Concord, Massachusetts
Feb 3 - Romanticism and Horror
- Edgar Allen Poe (website) – “The Fall of the House of Usher” - p. 117
Feb 5 - Slavery and Abolition
- Harriet Beecher Stowe (website) – “The Two Altars; or, the Two Pictures in One,” p. 178
- The influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin
Feb 10 - Destiny?
- Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (website) – “An Angel Over the Right Shoulder”
- Harriet Prescott Spofford (website) – “Circumstance”
Later Nineteenth Century (1861–1899)
Feb 12 - Realism
- Rebecca Harding Davis (website) – “Life in the Iron Mills” – p. 255
[first half - to page 271]
- Discussion leaders' assignment - handout
- Guidelines for Reflection paper (essay) - due Weds., Feb. 19 if you want comments and opportunity to revise; due Monday, Feb. 24 otherwise - handout.
Feb 17 - Realism
- Rebecca Harding Davis - "Life in the Iron Mills" - [Last half - 271 - end]
Feb 19 - Women and Independence
- Mary Wilkins Freeman (website) – “The Revolt of “Mother’” – Videorecording (MMC – Monterey Home Video Video 813 F877 1987) - p. 361
Feb 24 - Women and Transcendence
- Sarah Orne Jewett (website) – “The Queen’s Twin”
- Kate Chopin (website) – “A Story of an Hour” (Internet)
Feb 26 - The "Burden" of Wealth and Class
- Edith Wharton (website) – House of Mirth - first half of book
Mar 3 - The "Burden" of Wealth and Class
- Edith Wharton – House of Mirth - second half of book
- Edith Wharton – House of Mirth (video)
- Take-Home exam (handout) distributed. Tests due Wednesday, March 12 or the first class after spring break (Monday, March 24).
Early Twentieth Century (1900–1940)
Mar 10 - Desire and Longing
- Willa Cather (website) – “A Wagner Matinée” - p. 509
- Sherwood Anderson (website) – “Hands” - p. 588
- Take home exam
Mar 12 - Nostalgia and Modernism
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (website) – “Winter Dreams” - p. 636
- Ernest Hemingway (website) – “Soldier’s Home” – Video recording (CSU – Monterey Home Video Z1.A43 S642 1987) - 682
Mar 17 - Spring break
Mar 19 - Spring break
Mar 24 - Two Famous Stylists
- Henry James (website) – “The Jolly Corner” – Videorecording – Monterey Home Video – CUW PN1997 .J64 1986) - p. 555
- Gertrude Stein (website) – “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene” - p. 669
Mid-Twentieth Century (1941–1968)
Mar 26 - Prejudice and Invisibility
- Ralph Ellison (website) – Invisible Man - selected excerpts from first half
- Prologue, pp. 1-14
- Chapter One - Battle Royal, pp. 15-33
- Chapter Six - Dismissal, pp. 136-150
- Chapter Nine - The Letter, pp. 172-196
- Chapter Ten - Liberty Paints factory, pp. 196-230
Mar 31 - Prejudice and Invisibility - "Who knows but that, on lower frequencies, I speak for you?"
- Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man - selected excerpts from second half
- Chapter Fourteen - The Brotherhood, pp. 296-317
- Chapter Seventeen - The Brotherhood (cont.), pp. 356-382
- Chapter Twenty - The Brotherhood (Clifton), pp. 423-444
- Chapter Twenty-Two - The Brotherhood, pp. 462-478
- Chapter Twenty-Five (Driven Underground), pp. 535-571
- Epilogue, pp. 572-581
Apr 2 - Modern Life
- Kay Boyle (website) – “Winter Night” – p. 892
- John Cheever (website) – “The Enormous Radio” - p. 902
Apr 7 - African-American Experience – Two Glimpses
- Zora Heale Hurston (website) – “The Six-Bits” – p. 727
- Flannery O’Connor (website) – “Everything that Rises Must Converge” – p. 998
- Reading Day – Catch up
Later Twentieth Century (1966–Present)
Apr 14 - A Jewish American Experience
- Philip Roth (website) – Goodbye, Columbus - first half of book
- Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus - second half of book
- Philip Roth – Goodbye, Columbus( video)
Apr 23 - Words and Plot
- John Barth (website) – “Title” - p. 1062
- Joyce Carol Oates (website) – “How I Contemplated the World at the Detroit House of Correction and Began my Life Over Again” – p. 1072
Apr 28 - Conclusions and Endings
- John Updike (website) – “Separating” - p. 1120
- Amy Hempel (website) – “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” – p. 1143
Apr 30 - Generations
- Grace Paley (website) – “A Conversation with my Father” – p. 1090
- Alice Walker (website) – “Everyday Use” – p. 1103
May 5 - The Impact of Words and Texts
- Gina Berricault (website) – “Who is It Can Tell Me Who I Am?” – p. 1232
- Ursula Le Guin (website) – “Texts” – p. 1196
May 7 - Review & course evaluations
May 12 - Final exam
- University of Connecticut website archive (website)
- American Literature on the web (links to American Authors) - website
- American Literature Overviews - website
- Best American Literature websites