Assimilation, Americanization, and Alienation

Dr. Mike Duvall
Associate Professor
Department of English
74 George St. #302
Ofce Hours: TBA
We will examine literature of inclusion/exclusion and assimilation/alienation in the US
across the turn of the twentieth century, a period of profound material, social, and cultural
transformation that laid the groundwork for our present-day nation. Our readings, primar-
ily fction and autobiography, will include writing by African Americans, Eastern European
Jewish immigrants, Native Americans, and Chinese immigrants. Our primary means of
coming to terms with these texts will be informed reading, writing, discussion, and a sub-
stantial fnal project.
Course Goals
Students successfully completing this class will be able to:
• defne subjectivity, assimilation, and Americanization and related terms and concepts
and apply these in discussions of literary texts
• discuss how literary texts work out issues of marginality (racial, ethnic, religious, and so
forth) within historical conditions of the late 19th and early 20th in the United States
• compare, diferentiate, and analyze style and theme in literary texts that explore assimi-
lation, Americanization, and/or alienation
• recognize and analyze some of the “conversations” into which scholars and critics enter
when they write about such texts and engage with and intervene in these conversations
in their fnal projects
Class Websites
Tere are two class websites: and our CofC OAKS
Te frst is our main site, where I will post most of our readings and information about the
class, including assignment sheets, announcements, handouts, and so forth. OAKS is where
you will turn in assignments, check your grades, and access required readings that are copy-
• Short Miscellaneous Assignments & Quizzes (15% of the class grade) - frequent short
in-class and out-of-class assignments designed to help you think about and respond
to the readings, formulate problems and questions for class discussion, work through
course concepts, and so on. Please note: grades for missed in-class assignments cannot
be made up.
• Presentations (10% of the class grade) - one 5-7 minute introductory presentation on
a writer and one 5-7 minute presentation on an historical context. Ideally, these will be
done in pairs or in small groups, but they may be done individually, depending on the
number of students when the class roll is fnalized in the 2nd week of class. A sign-up
sheet for dates and subjects will be available as soon as possible.
• Summary & Response Papers (SRP) (2) (25% of the class, grade) - you will summa-
rize two assigned critical articles, reiterating each article’s main argument and its project,
its central claims, reasoning, and key evidence, and discuss the article’s rhetorical situ-
ation. Additionally, you will include a thoughtful response to the article. SRP due dates
are listed on the schedule. A sign-up sheet for the selected articles will be available in the
frst week of class.
• Final Project (25% of the class grade) - a substantial project of your own design on
Numerous literary and
critical texts available in
PDF format on the main
course website and on
ENGL 362 - Fall 2014 - MYBK 220 - TR 9:50
in Late 19th c. American Literature
some aspect of the course (a concept or issue, a text, a group of texts, a writer, etc.), subject to approval through a rigor-
ous proposal process. Your project will not only engage deeply with your subject matter, but will also put itself into
conversation with appropriate criticism, theory, and/or scholarship. Certainly, a researched critical paper of 10+ pages
would qualify for the project, but the possibilities for the project are wide open, so long as it reinforces course goals.
• Final Examination (25% of the class grade) - a cumulative examination emphasizing content knowledge, understand-
ing of key terms and issues, analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of connections between texts across the entire semes-
ter. It will consist of a take-home written portion and an in-class objective and short-answer section.
Percentage equivalents for fnal grades in this class are as follows:
A = 94-100, A- = 91-93
B+ = 88-90, B = 84-87, B- = 81-83
C+ = 78-80, C= 74-77, C- = 71-73
D+ = 68-70, D= 64-67, D- = 61-63
F = 60 and below
Attendance, Preparation for Class, Missed and Late Assignments
Tere is no ofcial grade penalty in this class for failure to attend a certain number of class meetings. Similarly, there is no
reward for simply showing up to class meetings.
If you are serious about your education, and I am serious about ofering something that goes beyond what you could just as
easily do on your own, then the attendance issue will sort itself out on its own. Being in class is the minimal condition for
success; frequently not being in class is invariably correlated with not doing well.
Since the conversations we will be having in this class are so important, it’s worth saying a few words here about the class
climate we need to cultivate in order to have productive and enjoyable meetings. We will inevitably broach controversial
issues in this class: religion, race, gender, ideology, sexuality, and more. Literary studies puts everything on the table. I will
do my best to nurture an atmosphere of mutual respect, openness, and fairness, balanced with high intellectual standards
for backing up the positions we may take. I ask you to do the same.
I will penalize late major assignments (SRPs) at the rate of 5% of the fnal grade per calendar day late. Other late assign-
ments I will take on a case-by-case basis, ofering some credit for late work or no credit, depending on the nature of the
Use of Personal Technology during Class
You may use tablets or personal computers during class for tasks directly related to the class. For instance, you may use
these to take notes or reference the reading for the day, particularly if you do not intend to print the readings.
You may not use tablets or personal computers for any other purposes during class. Also, please silence your mobile phone
when you are in class. And never, ever text (or tweet, or whatever) during class: I fnd it terribly distracting, and it may
distract your fellow students as well.
If you plan to use a computer in class, since an upright screen in the line of sight can draw attention, even if it is just dis-
playing a word processor or text, I ask that you minimize this possibility by sitting on the periphery of the classroom, if you
Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism
I treat plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty with great seriousness. If I suspect an assignment to be plagia-
rized or in some other way not the student’s own work—regardless of whether the assignment is major or minor—I assign
the grade of zero for the assignment, and I report the violation to the Honor Board for further review and action. Please
consult “Te Honor System at the College of Charleston,” available online at,
for a full statement on the College’s honor code.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
If you require academic accommodation due to a disability, please make me aware of this in a confdential manner within
the frst week of class. Should you have questions about disability services at the College of Charleston, please contact the
Center for Disability Services at 953-1431 or visit their website at
Calendar of Readings & Assignments
Please note: this schedule is by no means set in stone. Dates for readings and due dates for assignments may change as
needed. Any changes will be announced in class with ample lead time for you to also make needed adjustments, and you
will be responsible for keeping up with the changes. Te fnal exam date and time is included in the schedule (and that’s a
frm date): please do not make travel arrangements that confict with this (if you already have a confict, please make the
necessary changes to your plans or consider taking another course).
Date Day Topics, Reading, Other Assignments
8/19 Tu Beginnings: the big questions, the small questions, the plan, and the policies
8/21 T Werner Sollors, “Americans All” | PDF
8/25 M Last Day to Drop/Add Classes
---------Unit 1: Eastern European Jewish Immigrant Writing
8/26 Tu Abraham Cahan, Yekl (through chapter 6) | PDF
8/28 T Yekl (chapter 7 to end)
Due: SRP 1 (Haenni)
9/2 Tu Mary Antin, Te Promised Land, selections (through chapter IX) | PDF
9/4 T Promised Land (remaining selections)
Due: SRP 1 (Kramer)
9/9 Tu Anzia Yezierska, “America and I” | PDF
Avrom Reyzen, “Equality of the Sexes” | PDF on OAKS
---------Unit 2: Chinese Immigrant Writing
9/11 T Yan Phou Lee, When I was a Boy in China | PDF
9/16 Tu “Twelve Hundred More” (song) | PDF
Lee Chew, “Te Biography of a Chinaman” | PDF
9/18 T Sui Sin Far, “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian” | PDF
---, “A Chinese Boy Girl” | PDF
9/23 Tu Sui Sin Far, “In the Land of the Free” | PDF
---, “A White Woman Who Married a Chinaman” | PDF
Due: SRP 1 (Jirousek)
9/25 T Onoto Watanna, “A Half Caste” | PDF
---------Unit 3: Native American Writing
9/30 Tu Chauncy Depew, ”Columbian Oration,” selections | PDF
Simon Pokagon, “Te Red Man’s Greeting” | PDF on OAKS
Due: SRP 1 (Berliner)
10/2 T Zitkala-Sa, “Impressions of an Indian Childhood” | PDF
---, “Schooldays of an Indian Girl” | PDF
10/4 Sat Designated Storm Makeup Day
10/7 Tu Zitkala-Sa, “An Indian Teacher among Indians” | PDF
Due: SRP 1 (Enoch)
10/9 T Charles Eastman, Te Soul of the Indian (through chapter III) | PDF
10/14 Tu Te Soul of the Indian (chapter IV to end)
---------Unit 4: African American Writing
10/16 T Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery, selections (through chapter II) | PDF
10/21 Tu Up from Slavery, (remaining selections)
Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases | PDF
Due: SRP 2 (Jeremy Wells)
10/23 T NO CLASS
10/28 Tu WEB Du Bois, Te Souls of Black Folk, selections (through chapter VII) | PDF
10/30 T Te Souls of Black Folk (remaining selections)
Due: SRP 2 (forthcoming)
11/6 T Paul Laurence Dunbar, Te Sport of the Gods (through chapter IX) | PDF
11/11 Tu Sport of the Gods (remaining chapters)
Due: SRP 2 (forthcoming)
11/13 T TBD (probably project workshop meetings)
11/18 Tu TBD (probably project workshop meetings)
11/20 T TBD (probably project workshop meetings)
11/25 Tu Review for Final Examination
12/4 T FINAL EXAM: 8-11AM