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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Wayne Lesser

Associate Professor Ph.D., 1975, University of Chicago

Wayne Lesser

Contact

E 316M • American Literature

34430-34465 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm JGB 2.324
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E 316M  l  American Literature

Instructor:  Lesser, W

Unique #:  34420-34465

Semester:  Spring 2015

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Flags:  Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

Description: Literature in Culture – We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

Texts: An E-Anthology (drawn from Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th & 7th Editions), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). A Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines) available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe.

Requirements & Grading: Exam #1(25%); Exam #2:(30%); Exam #3:(40%); Quizzes (5%). We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester. Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal. We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade. For evaluated work: A =4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3.0; etc. For the calculation of course grades: the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8; for an A- = 3.6; for a B+ = 3.3; for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

E 395M • Probs In Colonl Amer Lit/Socty

35140 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CAL 221
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Problems in Colonial American Literature and Society

This course was conceived by Prof. Matt Cohen in response to a request from Graduate English.  With some coaching from Matt, who is not in residence this Spring, I will try to extend my more “traditional” work in the period to these now disciplinarily central texts and issues.   

Course description

The title of this course emblematizes the major challenges to the critical discourse we will engage.  Problems of time: what could “early” mean, when we ask ourselves to imagine that the modern states that now make up North America were not inevitable, or when “time” meant something very different for Europeans and for indigenous Americans (and may still)?  And what about “North America”?  Is that what we mean when we say “American,” and if not, what could we mean when colonial discourse implies that one is always talking about at least two cultural groups (not even counting imaginary utopias)?  “Literature,” of course, has been fought over for a long time -- but that history of contest begins in the period we will take as our focus.

From the challenges of representation and translation involved in retelling native American literatures to the qualified postcoloniality of writing in the United States after the Revolution, this course will examine some of the primary and secondary texts under debate in the study of “early American literature.”  Ever-present will be questions about how race, nascent imperial identities, gender, class, and religion informed literatures of encounter.  The course will ground these questions in the context of the production and dissemination of early American texts -- that is, in the histories of cultures of communication by print, oral, and hybrid technologies.  We will as a result be reading a wide range of primary documents.  Secondary texts will include historical, theoretical, and comparative studies.

Major texts

Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca; University of Nebraska Press, 2003. 080326416X

Thomas Morton, New English Canaan; Jack Dempsey, editor, Digital Scanning Inc., 2000. 1582181519

Roger Williams, A Key into the Language of America; Applewood Books, 1997. 1557094640

Wendy Martin, ed., Colonial American Travel Narratives; Viking Penguin, 1994. 014039088X

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; Yale, 1964. 0300098588

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings; Penguin USA, 1998. 0140434852

Charles Brockden Brown, Ormond; Broadview, 2002. 1551110911

Leonora Sansay, Secret History; or, the Horrors of St. Domingo; Broadview, 2007. 1551113465

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Algic Researches: North American Indian Folktales and Legends; Dover, 1999. 0486401871

Online Readings: selections from Rabasa, Smith, Montaigne, Cheyfitz, Winthrop, Miller, Taylor, Wood, Benjamin, Greenblatt, Bradstreet, Edwards, Mather, Occom, Hall, Rowlandson, Castiglia, Slotkin Faludi, Byrd, Memmi, Habermas, Warner, Jefferson, Wheatley, Gilroy, Sansay, Buck-Morss, Dillon, Irving, Clifford.

Assignments

Five significant performances are expected in this course:

  1. At midterm, a short, formal assignment: a book review (books should be approved by the instructor).
  2. A research essay of 15-20 pages based significantly on a close or comparative reading of one or two texts we discuss this semester.  This paper must demonstrate a critical engagement with the themes and issues (largely construed) raised by the course; it should also focus rigorously on a single topic.
  3. In small groups, you will track some external readings on an overarching theme of the class (race, gender, sexuality, religion, art, spatiality, science, economics are some examples) and, over the course of the semester, put together an early American literature syllabus for an undergraduate-level course with that anchoring theme.
  4. During the semester you will lead the class discussion once.  There are many ways of doing this; customarily one might prepare a 10-15 minute presentation of the secondary material assigned for that week and pose questions for examining the primary reading based on that introduction, but other approaches are welcome. 

In the last class meeting you will present a synopsis of your research project, describing the major currents of recent discussion on the critical, theoretical, and historical issues surrounding your chosen material.

E 316M • American Literature

35500-35505 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm WCH 1.120
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Instructor:  Lesser, W

Unique #:  35500-35505

Semester:  Fall 2014

Flags:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test.

Description: Literature in Culture – We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

Texts: An E-Anthology (drawn from Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th & 7th Editions), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). A Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines) available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe.

Requirements & Grading: Exam #1(25%); Exam #2:(30%); Exam #3:(40%); Quizzes (5%). We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester. Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal. We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade. For evaluated work: A =4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3.0; etc. For the calculation of course grades: the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8; for an A- = 3.6; for a B+ = 3.3; for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

E F316K • Masterworks Of Lit: American

83150 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm WAG 101
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Instructor:  Lesser, W

Unique #:  83150

Semester:  Summer 2014, first session

Flags:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test.

Description: Literature in Culture – We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

Texts: An E-Anthology (drawn from Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th & 7th Editions), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). A Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines) available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe.

Requirements & Grading: Exam #1(25%); Exam #2:(30%); Exam #3:(40%); Quizzes (5%). We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester. Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal. We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade. For evaluated work: A =4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3.0; etc. For the calculation of course grades: the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8; for an A- = 3.6; for a B+ = 3.3; for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

E 324 • American Novels After 1960

35865 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm PAR 303
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Instructor:  Lesser, W

Unique #:  35865

Semester:  Spring 2014

Cross-lists:  n/a

Prerequisites: C L 315, E 603B, 316K, or T C 603B.

Description: In this course, we will be reading eight contemporary American fiction writers whose narratives represent the contemporary American scene, roughly 1960 to the present. The writers include Philip Roth (Goodbye Columbus), Toni Morrison (Sula), Don DeLillo (The Names), Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Good Squad), Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue), Cormac McCarthy (The Road), Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), and Kevin Wilson (The Family Fang).

Requirements & Grading: Three take-home examinations (Exam #1, 25%; Exam #2, 30%; Exam #3, 35%); and Class Participation (10%).

E 349S • Delillo And Erdrich

35840 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 204
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Instructor:  Lesser, W            Areas:  I / H

Unique #:  35840            Flags:  n/a

Semester:  Fall 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Six semester hours of upper-division coursework in English.

Description: In this course, we will be reading novels by two esteemed contemporary authors: Don DeLillo and Louise Erdrich.  Although DeLillo is celebrated for exploring the “post-modern condition” and Erdrich is celebrated for representing the challenge of “selfhood” within the context of contemporary Native American tribal experience, both writers are master “storytellers”. By this I mean that the way they invent their narratives – their combination of imagination and craft – is itself a response to the human situations they are dramatizing and evaluating. So it is a double concern – with their celebrated thematic interests, on the one hand, and their crafting of story, on the other – that will inform our engagement with their texts.

We will read 9 novels this semester:

DeLillo: White Noise; The Names; Falling Man; The Body Artist;

Erdrich: Love Medicine, Tracks, Four Souls, The Master Butchers Singing Club; The Plague of Doves

Requirements & Grading: Three take-home 4-6-page essays:  Essay #1 (25%), Essay #2 (30%), Essay #3 (35%); Class Participation (10%).

Attendance: Students are allowed three unexcused absences during the semester. Additional absences may affect a student’s course grade.

E 324 • American Novels After 1960

35328 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 101
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Instructor:  Lesser, W            Areas:  Elective / U

Unique #:  XXXXX            Flags:  n/a

Semester:  Spring 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: C L 315, E 603B, 316K, or T C 603B.

Description: In this course, we will be reading eight contemporary American fiction writers whose narratives represent the contemporary American scene, roughly 1960 to the present. The writers include Philip Roth (Goodbye Columbus), Toni Morrison (Sula), Don DeLillo (The Names), Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Good Squad), Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue), Cormac McCarthy (The Road), Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), and Kevin Wilson (The Family Fang).

Requirements & Grading: Three take-home examinations (Exam #1, 25%; Exam #2, 30%; Exam #3, 35%); and Class Participation (10%).

E 316K • Masterworks Of Lit: American

34805-34850 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am FAC 21
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Instructor:  Lesser, W            Areas:  n/a / B

Unique #:  34805-34850            Flags:  n/a

Semester:  Spring 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  n/a            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test.

Description: Literature in Culture – We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

Texts: An E-Anthology (drawn from Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th & 7th Editions), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). A Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines) available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe.

Requirements & Grading: Exam #1(25%); Exam #2:(30%); Exam #3:(40%); Quizzes (5%). We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester. Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal. We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade. For evaluated work: A =4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3.0; etc. For the calculation of course grades: the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8; for an A- = 3.6; for a B+ = 3.3; for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

E 379R • Kennedy: Fact/Fict/Fantasy

35535 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ 2.122
(also listed as LAH 350 )
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Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Although the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 is one of the most thoroughly documented events in American history, the whole episode remains unsettled, the source of ongoing debate, unease, and a myriad of conspiracy theories. The assassination has also been the subject of several novels and plays. In this course I propose to study that day in Dallas from three perspectives. First we will try to establish a factual basis from a reading of Norman Mailer’s Oswald’s Tale followed by student reports based on segments of the Warren Commission Report. The second part of the course will focus on fiction inspired by the assassination. These include four novels: Edwin Shrake’s Strange Peaches, Bryan Woolley’s November 22, Don Delillo’s Libra, and Adam Braver’s November 22, 1963. We will also read one play, Michael Hastings’ Lee Harvey Oswald: A Far Mean Streak of Indepence Brought on by Negleck. Finally, we will take a look into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, which constitutes the “Fantasy” part of the course title.

This course will also have an HRC component. The Don DeLillo Collection and the Norman Mailer Collection will be used in our study of the works by those authors. Edwin Shrake’s papers may also be consulted at Texas State University-San Marcos.I envision the course as a multi-layered investigation into how language and research are employed to create structures of factual as well as emotional truths or fictions.

E S316K • Masterworks Of Lit: American

83765 • Summer 2011
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm WEL 3.502
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Prerequisites: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test.

 

Description: Literature in culture –

We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present. We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought. In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

 

Texts: Concise Anthology of American Literature (7th Edition), George McMichael, editor (Pearson); Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing required readings and the lecture outlines). The packets are available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe.

 

Requirements & Grading: EXAMINATIONS:  Exam #1: 7/27, 7/28; Exam #2: during final exam period (tba)

 

SEMESTER GRADES:  Exam #1(45%); Exam #2 (55%). We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester. Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal. We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade. For evaluated work:  A =4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3.0; etc. For the calculation of course grades: the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8; for an A- = 3.6; for a B+ = 3.3; for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

E 316K • Masterworks Of Lit: American

83025 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 1000am-1130am WCH 1.120
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Prerequisites:  Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test. 

Description: We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

Texts:    

  • Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th Edition), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). 
  • Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines and additional required readings). 

The packets are available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe

Requirements & Grading:

Examinations:  Exam #1: 6/21 & 6/22;   Exam #2:  7/9 (2:00-5:00)

Semester Grades:  Exam #1: 45%;  Exam #2: 55%.  We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester.  Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal.  We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade.  For evaluated work:  A =4.0;  A- = 3.67;  B+ = 3.34;  B = 3.0; etc.  For the calculation of course grades:  the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8;  for an A- = 3.6;  for a B+ = 3.3;  for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc.

For more information, please download the full course syllabus.

 

Prerequisites:  Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A, and a passing score on the reading section of the Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) test.

 

Description: We will survey major works of American literature from colonial times to the present.  We will read each of our texts in reference to its “historical context,” and we will define our highlighted contexts on the bases of Puritan (17th century), Enlightenment (18th century), Modernist (early 20th century), and contemporary thought.  In addition, we will examine some of our selections – particularly those authored by women and people of color – as reconfigurations or confrontations with the ideals contained within the highlighted contexts.

 

 

Texts:     Concise Anthology of American Literature (6th Edition), George McMichael, editor ((Pearson). 

Supplemental Packet (a professor’s packet containing the lecture outlines and additional required readings). 

 

The packets are available at Jenn’s Copy, 2200 Guadalupe

 

Requirements & Grading:

Examinations:  Exam #1: 6/21 & 6/22;   Exam #2:  7/9 (2:00-5:00)

 

Semester Grades:  Exam #1: 45%;  Exam #2: 55%.  We will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester.  Each exam will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal.  We will use two scales: one for evaluated work and one for the course grade.  For evaluated work:  A =4.0;  A- = 3.67;  B+ = 3.34;  B = 3.0; etc.  For the calculation of course grades:  the bar you must reach for an A = 3.8;  for an A- = 3.6;  for a B+ = 3.3;  for a B = 2.8; for a B- = 2.6; etc

E 348 • 20th-Century Short Story

34860 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm PAR 105
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English 348:  The Modern Short Story

Professor Wayne Lesser (lesser@mail.utexas.edu)
Parlin Hall 218
Office Hours::  (tentative) TTH 1-2:30

During this semester, we will be reading 20th century American short stories.   The course has two principal objectives.  The first is simply to introduce you to a selection of distinguished American short story writers.  The second objective is to cultivate an approach to inventing interpretive agendas based upon the relationship between “narrative projects” and “ideas.”  Although our class discussions will be wide-ranging, we will work persistently at refining our definitions of “projects,” “ideas,” and also at the various ways in which they relate to one another.

Required Text: 

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, ed. Bausch & Cassill (7th ed).

Evaluation:

  1. There will be three take-home essay examinations: Exam #1  (2/18-23) 33%; Exam #2 (4/6-8) 33%; Exam #3 (5/4-6) 34%.
  2. I will indicate on each exam whether your class participation is “satisfactory” for that unit of the course.  You will need to earn at least 2 “satisfactory” designations in order to have “class participation” count in your final course grade.  If your class participation is adequate, I will count your highest grade twice in the final calculation.   Therefore, instead of averaging three grades, I’ll average four, with each counting 25%.  In this way, your best performance will count for 50% of your course grade.
  3. (3) Grading Policy: I will be using plus and minus grade designations this semester.  Each piece of work will be calibrated on a four-point scale, rounded to the second decimal.  However, I will use two scales, one for evaluated work and one for the final course grade calculation.  For evaluated work:  A = 4.0; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.34; B = 3; B- = 2.67,;etc..   For the calculation of course grades:  the bar you must reach for A = 3.8; for A- = 3.6; for B+ = 3.3; for B = 2.8; for B- = 2.6, etc..

Absenteeism: 

You are allowed three unexcused absences during the term.  Additional absences may affect your grade in the course.

Note: Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259

For more information, please download the full syllabus.

E 316K • Masterworks Of Lit: American

34515-34560 • Fall 2009
Meets MWF 1000-1100 FAC 21
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TBD

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