Course Info




English 258.1

Prof. Larry Hanley

Fall 2014

Th 6:10 – 8:55 p.m.

HUM 111


This course surveys some of the key figures, movements, and texts of 19th and 20th-century American literature.  To tame this profusion of words and stories, we will focus on a loose set of themes – – the journey, nature, the self, gender, modernity, class – –  in American poetry, fiction, and drama.

By the end of this class, you should be able to recognize and explain some recurrent patterns, types, and plots that might signify an “American” literary identity – – what I will sometimes refer to as the “narrative DNA” of American culture.   You will also be able to understand and use some basic critical terms in literary study like focalization, characterization, narration, and plot.  You will develop your writing skills – – both informal and formal. Finally, you will tangle with some of the complicated but intellectually fascinating relations between social and cultural contexts and literary form.

I believe in the power of discussion and deep involvement with ideas and texts.  We will use a variety of means (blogs, in-class writing, out-of-class writing, etc.) to fortify your active engagement with the class and literary texts.


Required Texts:


Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner)

Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge (Penguin Plays)

The rest of our texts are online – – surf to the motherblog for live links.


Course Requirements

You must complete all reading and writing assignments.  Your success in this course depends on steady, authentic engagement with the texts we read.  You can expect to write something for or in each class.

You can’t learn if you don’t attend class.  After two absences, your grade will be in jeopardy.  If you know in advance that you’ll be absent, discuss this absence with me beforehand.  I don’t accept late assignments.

Our course motherblog is located at  There, you’ll find a copy of the syllabus, information about the texts and authors we read, announcements, assignments, and other important stuff.  Check the blog frequently.

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words or ideas without proper credit.  Practicing plagiarism defeats the purpose of the academic enterprise.  If you plagiarize an assignment, you will receive a grade of “F” for the assignment.  Serial offenders will face more serious consequences.  A detailed treatise on plagiarism and its consequences can be found at:



Your grade will be determined by these factors: attendance; in-class work; out-of-class work. Attendance includes at least two visits to my office, during office hours.  If you know in advance that you will miss a class or two, notify me in advance of your absence.  N.B. The class does not have a midterm or final exam.


Assignments in the class will include: writing for several minutes at the beginning of class – – usually in response to a question I pose; a two-page, double-spaced essay for the class about once every two weeks; blogging (You will create a blog at  I will ask you to use the blog, usually once or twice a week,  to respond to questions or issues raised in class.  For more on blogging, see the course page on blogs.).


All of these will be graded using the patented check/check plus/check minus system.  At the end of the semester, if you have satisfactorily completed all writing assignments, you will earn a grade of B.  Earning points beyond satisfactory completion of all writing assignments will earn you a grade above and beyond a B.


All assignments must be submitted on the designated date or time.  Except in the rarest circumstances and only with advance notice, I do not accept late assignments.




Week 1 (8/28)

Th  First day of class


Week 2 (9/4)

Th  Irving, “Rip Van Winkle ” (OL)

Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown ”(OL)

Hawthorne, “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” (OL)


Week 3 (9/11)

Th   BYON (Bring Your Own Journey Narrative)

Emerson,  “The American Scholar ”(OL)

Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (OL)

Book Club Launch


Week 4 (9/18)

Th Whitman, “Song of Myself ” (OL)

Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (OL)

BYON essay due


Week 5 (9/25)

Th  Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (OL)


Week 6 (10/2)

Th  Dickinson, selected poems (OL)


Week 7 (10/9)

Th   Discussion day: American Selves


Week 8 (10/16)

Th  Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (OL)

Freeman, “The Revolt of ‘Mother‘” (OL)

Jewett, “A White Heron” (OL)

American self essay due


Week 9 (10/23)

Th  Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken ” (OL)

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ” (OL)

Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro ” (OL)

W.C. Williams, “To Elsie ” (OL)

W.C. Williams, “This Is Just To Say” (OL)


Week 10 (10/30)

Th   Eliot, “The Waste Land” (OL)


Week 11 (11/6)

Th  Hemingway, In Our Time


Week 12 (11/13)

Th Miller, A View from the Bridge

Modern life essay due


Week 13 (11/20)

Th  Allen Ginsberg, “Howl ” (OL)


Week 14 (11/27)

Th  Fall ’14 Recess


Week 15 (12/4)

Th Book Clubbin’

Dissidence essay


Week 16 (12/12)

Th Last day of class

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