E 338 • American Literature: From 1865 to the Present
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
This course in American literature ranges from 1865 (the end of the Civil War) to the 1950s (the development of the Cold War). The course is divided into three parts: (1) Belief and Doubt: Whitman and Dickinson; (2) Gender, Race and Perspective; (3) Reflections on Uncertainty. We will read poetry by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Countee Collin, Theodore Roethke, Richard Wilbur, and Richard Wright, among others; and fiction by Stephen Crane, Grace King, Sarah Orne Jewett, Edith Wharton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Ellen Glasgow, William Faulkner, and Sherwood Anderson, among others. We will consider how these authors struggle (1) to find something in which to believe and (2) to derive some ethical measure of human life when systems of belief, such as Whitman's Transcendentalist faith and nationalism, have collapsed and seem un-replaceable. What can be affirmed in the "modern world" of competing perspectives that might give humanity the "courage to be?"
There is a very strict attendance policy, and objective, short-answer exercises emphasizing mastery provide the main measure of evaluation.
A course booklet provides the readings for this class.