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Chinn: Survey of American Literature

ENG 200: Survey of American Literature, 1865 to present

English 200, American Literature from 1865, serves as an introduction to American literature and literary
movements from Reconstruction to today. We will consider a wide range of questions and issues as we
examine this literature, including the way that authors and the reading public responded to the ever-shifting
modern world. We will examine the ways that race, class, and gender become major points of tension and
how great works of arts are created out of such tensions. We will also examine how two world wars, the
subsequent anxiety surrounding the Cold War, and countercultures all manifest complex aesthetic questions.
The last 150 years of American literary production has opened fascinating and precise questions about the
human moment that impact us today.
We will approach the course in three ways: first, by framing texts in a larger social and cultural historical
context; second, by examining the nexus between art and technology of the time; and third, by using digital
tools that will help us think more broadly about the American experiment.
Required Texts: Please buy the exact copy with the correct ISBN number:
The Norton Anthology of American Literature after 1865, ed. Nina Baym, et al. 8th edition
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
All other texts and pdfs can be found on the digital syllabus at
Participation and discussion are two major components of this course. Thus, if you have more than three
absences, your grade will automatically fall one letter grade. If you have more than six absences, you will
automatically get an F for the course. If you cannot meet these requirements, I encourage you to drop the
course before the end of the Add/ Drop period. If you arrive fifteen minutes late, youll automatically be
counted absent.
Laptop/ E-Reader policy: I do not allow laptops or E-Readers in the classroom. While we will have a
digital component later in the semester, recent studies have shown that writing by hand actually improves
retention of classroom discussions. Please take notes by hand. (Youll thank me after you take your midterm
Mobile Phone Policy: Absolutely NO mobile phones allowed in class. If I see you looking at your
crotch, I will assume you are looking at your phone and will ask you to leave the
classroom for the day.
Course Objectives:
By the end of this course I expect that you will be able
-To read and annotate poems, short stories, and novels carefully.
-To identify an authors formal and stylistic choices.
-To advance compelling interpretations of poetry, short stories, and novels through discussion and writing.
-To think critically and creatively about poetry, short stories, and novels.
-To work between various genres and styles of American literature.

Short online responses

You will be asked to post 5 short responses (500-700 words) to the class website throughout the semester.
The goal of the response is to synthesize what you have read, and a successful response will also include a
critical question that others in the class may comment upon.

Chinn: Survey of American Literature

Short online responses to critical questions
You will post 5 responses (500 words) to critical questions that a classmate will ask in her short response
section. When it is NOT your turn to write a short online response, you will write a response to the critical
Literary analysis
Over the course of the semester, you will write a literary analysis paper (4-5 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch
margins, 12-pt. font, MLA style) in which you do a close reading of a text of your choice (we will talk about
what a close reading is in class).
Historical Book review
You will have to submit one review of your choice. You will need to examine the section on the class website
entitled bad reviews of your favorite authors. You will be required to write a review that rebuts the
historical bad review, but keep in mind that you will need to give concrete examples that refute the
pretentious reviews of yore. Your review should be 4-5 pages long (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-pt.
font, MLA style).
Exploratory essay
You will submit an exploratory essay (4-5 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-pt. font, MLA style) in
which you describe your thinking process about a problem you will wrestle with more coherently in your final
paper. You will need to tell me why you became interested in this problem and how your thinking has
evolved through class discussion and your own research.
Final paper
You will submit a final paper (8-10 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-pt. font, MLA style) confronting
a problem of your choice. This paper may develop out of any of the assignments that youve submitted for
the class. Please use a maximum of three outside texts. I will aks you to turn in a rough draft two weeks before
the final is due.
Grading Breakdown:
10% Participation in class
20% Short online responses
20% Responses to critical questions

20% Historical book review

20% Final Paper (8-10 pages)
10% Exploratory paper

Grading Rubric:
A 94-100
A- 90-93.9

B+ 87-89.9
B 83-86.9
B- 80-82.9

C+ 77-79.9
C 73-76.9
C- 70-72.9

D+ 67-69.9
D 63-66.9
D- 60-62.9