For Thursday (6/11)

Let’s read Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”  After a brief hiatus – – annotations are now open on the poem page. You’ll want to make at least four annotations on the poem.  Given the brief interregnum between our Tues. and Thurs. classes, just make sure you finish your annotations by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

At the end of class, I’ll give you about an hour to write an in-class reflection piece on the texts we’ve read during our time together.  I’ll provide a broad prompt.  Bring any texts or notes or etc. that you think might be helpful.  If you wish to type your reflection, bring a laptop or portable typewriter etc.

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For Tuesday (July

Yes, we will be meeting in class on Tuesday, July 2.

Let’s read some representative writing from the Harlem Renaissance/New Negro movement.

Start with the two essays – – Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” and Alain Locke, “The New Negro.”  (Two digital annotations for each essay.)

Then read some poetry: Langston Hughes, “Weary Blues,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “I, Too, Sing America,” “Harlem” ; Claude McKay, “Harlem Shadows,” “I Shall Return,” “America”; and Sterling Brown, “Ma Rainey.”  (Two annotations for each poet.)

And, if you’re interested, check out Jacob Lawrence’s masterpiece – – “The Migration Series.”


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For Thursday (6/27)

Remember: we won’t meet in-class on Tuesday, June 25.  We will meet in class on Thursday, June 27 at 9 a.m.

For Thursday, you’ll want to complete the following:

For Wed. at 9 a.m.: Read Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”  As you read it, annotate it.  You’ll want to make at least two digital annotation for each section of the poem.  Don’t use the annotations to define or identify things.  Instead, use your annotations to keep track of motifs or patterns or images in the poem.  I.e. use the annotations to track an image or formal element across all five sections of Eliot’s poem.

For Wed. at 9 a.m.: Take a look at our collection of radical poetry.  These poems were written in the 1930s, during the “Great Depression.”  Here, you want to make at least five annotations across the whole collection.  One thing I’m interested in: how do these poems respond to/develop/reject the typical elements of modernism that we’ve noted so far and that you’ll see in “The Wast Land.”

For Thursday, June 27: head over to the 1913 Armory Show!  Browse through the galleries.  As you browse, collect three pieces of art that seem to reflect the modernist poetry (Williams, Pound, Stein, Eliot) that we’re reading.  Print out the images of each of these works.  For each curated piece of art, write no more than 500 words explaining how this piece connects to the poems we’ve read.  (You can type this or write it in legible longhand.)  Staple the whole thing together and bring it to class.


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For Thursday (6/20)

Remember: we won’t meet in class on Tuesday (6/18).  Instead, you’ll be digitally annotating texts.

For Thursday (6/20) when we meet in class, you’ll want to add two annotations to each of the following authors: Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Gertrude Stein.  In some cases, you may be required to read more than one text by any single author (check the syllabus).  When this happens, you need only add two digital annotations total to all of these texts (i.e. not two annotations per text).   In other words, when we meet in class next Thursday, you should have made a total of 14 annotations (seven writers x 2 annotations per writer).

Here are some things to think about as you annotate the texts/writers:

  • for our first flight (Robinson, Masters, Frost, Millay): can you see any patterns in content across these poems, i.e. typical topics, settings, characters, etc.?  can you see any patterns in terms of form, i.e. poetic structure – – rhyme, meter, rhythm? do you see any connections between this group of writers and the group we looked at in our last class (Adams, Du Bois, Gilman)?
  • for our second flight (Pound, Williams, Stein): can you identify and explain any significant  points of confusion in these poems? in comparison to Robinson, Frost, Masters, and Millay, what kind of formal patterns do you see or not see?  what happens to the values of “sequence” and “order” – – highly valued by Adams and Gilman – – in this second set of poems?

Remember: use the annotations to track patterns and locate points of confusion in your reading process, not to paraphrase or supply facts.  The annotating process should help you focus on specific, concrete words, phrases, and lines.  And, the annotations should reflect your serious, authentic efforts to make sense of the poems.

Let’s finish up all the annotations by 9 a.m on Wed., June 19.  This should give me enough time to really dig into your commentary.  Thanks.

Questions?  Email me.

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For Thursday (6/13)

We’ve got three texts and writers on deck for Thursday: Henry Adams, “The Dynamo and the Virgin” (from The Education of Henry Adams (1907/1918)); W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” (from The Souls of Black Folk (1903); and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall Paper” (1892).

You should make three annotations on each text.  Try to get these done by some time tonight (Wed.).

A few reminders about digital annotations: don’t use the annotations to define words, paraphrase sentences, or supply reference material.  Instead, think of the annotations as allowing you to do two things: one, to trace out patterns like the ones we looked for in Levine’s “They Feed They Lion,” i.e. repetitions of words, images, formal features (rhythm, meter, anaphora, etc.), etc.; two, to chronicle your reading process, especially the critical moments in this process. In other words, annotations can be very helpful and illuminating when you use them to identify points of confusion or frustration in your reading process and when you use the annotations not to resolve confusion but to really reflect on and think through what makes this moment in the text confounding.

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Welcome to English 528: American Literature, 1914 – 1960!  To your right, you’ll see links to all of our required texts (excepting Hemingway’s In Our Time).  You’ll also see a link to our syllabus.  Check back to this motherblog for assignments, info, and updates.

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How to Annotate

How to annotate?

Before describing what makes a helpful annotation, here’s what you’ll need to do to start annotating.

First, go to the “They Feed They Lion” page.  On that page, you’ll notice a small but odd set of icons in the upper right-hand corner.  They look like this:


Click on the little “<” symbol and a drawer will slide out.  It will look like this:

Untitled 2

Since you don’t have an account on Hypothesis, our annotation tool, you’ll have to create one.  Click on the “Create an account” button and fill in your details:

Untitled 3

N.B. When you choose a username – – choose a name that I will recognize.  E.g. “LHanley” is going to make life a lot easier for me than “MadProfX,” etc.

Once you’ve created an account and logged into the Hypothesis sidebar (on the Levine page), you’re ready to start annotating.  Here are the basics for how to mark text and add comments. (Don’t worry about mention of the “extension”  – – that’s already been installed on the motherblog.)  Make at least two annotations, or at least two replies to existing annotations.  N.B.  Make sure your annotations are set to “public,” so that we can all read them.

Second, what is a good annotation?  A good annotation can do several things – – record a response, propose a connection, supply useful information, or pose a helpful question. Basically, annotating is a way of writing what you’re thinking while you read.  An unhelpful annotation simply paraphrases the word or line of text.  I kind of like Mr. Varnell’s tips over on

This first assignment may engage you in two new things: getting started on online annotation and the work of annotating itself.  Don’t worry at all about what the poem “means.”  For now, just focus on using the annotations to capture the questions or reflections that occur as you ready.  And, don’t stress if things seem clumsy or awkward at first.  The more you practice, the more natural – – and easier – –  annotation will become.  E.g. relax and just start commenting on Levine’s poem.

You’re all set now.  Go forth and annotate.  (Questions? Problems? Contact me:  Enjoy!

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