English 352W Dr. Scott Romine
Office:117 McIver, 334-5384
Office Hours: MW 1:00-2:30, T 3-4:30, F 9-10.
Units and Texts
Race in the Modern American Novel
Richard Wright, Native Son
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses
Cultures and Codes
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Variations on the American Dream
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Willa Cather, My Ántonia
Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust
Course Objectives—This class will cover eight major American novels written during the first half of this century. Although these are not, by any objective standard, the nine "best" novels written during this period, they will, I hope, provide a representative sample of how American writers were adapting and modifying the novel form during this time. As this is a writing-intensive class, one of our goals will be the improvement of our writing. To this end, we will have frequent workshops on grammar, use of evidence, organization, analysis, and so forth. We will also write a good bit in the class, including a term paper, two essay-based exams, a series of short writing assignments posted to an email list, and numerous in-class writing exercises. It is imperative that you read the material before class. Our class time will be devoted to discussing these works as a class and in small groups, and if you haven't read—well, class discussion will pretty much come to nothing. As preparation for class discussion, I hope you will note your responses to works as you're reading them, and come to class ready to comment and argue about points you feel are confusing, interesting, or otherwise engaging. In short, look for the conflicts in the text and how you feel they are resolved, if indeed they are at all. I hope we will have some vigorous disagreements and arguments, although I do ask that you respect your classmates, even if you disagree with their interpretations and opinions.
Student Learning Outcomes—At the end of the semester, students will be able to demonstrate:
• knowledge of major texts in the tradition of the modern American novel
• an understanding of formal structures and effects of those structures in the novel genre
• a basic, pragmatic understanding of different theoretical approaches to novels
• an ability to analyze, synthesize, compare, and critique literature texts
• an ability to communicate in a sophisticated, clear way—both verbally and in written form—about literary texts
Grades—Your grade will consist of five major parts: a midterm (20%), a take-home final exam (25%), a 8-9 page “two-installment” term paper (30%), a series of short responses posted to a class email list and submitted as a "reading notebook" (10%), and a class participation grade (15%). I will discuss subject matter and format of both exams in class well ahead of time. Your term paper will be on a subject you choose in collaboration with me. Although I will offer advice in choosing and refining your term paper topic, the topic is ultimately your responsibility. Your class participation grade will include any quizzes, daily assignments, in-class writing, and groupwork in addition to your contribution to class discussion. To receive full credit, you should participate in class discussion almost every class: this is not a free grade, but an assignment like any other. If you do not regularly participate, I will assume that you are not reading the assigned texts.
Reading Notebook—I will set up a class e-mail list to which you will post six short writing assignments. Your posts should be in the neighborhood of 300 words, and can include:
• a summary and critique of a scholarly article
• a post on a topic raised in class, raised on the list, or that you choose yourself
Topics can include comparisons with other works; analyses of scenes, characters, techniques, themes; special points of interest —anything that you feel would add to the class's understanding of the work. Note that:
• Posts will be evaluated mainly on their thoughtfulness, and need not be especially structured.
• Although your posts must go to the list, you will also provide hard copies of your posts at a point late in the semester; this will comprise a "reading notebook" for which you will receive a grade. For this reason, you must keep electronic or hard copies of your posts. I will not do so, so if you lose your posts, you must either rewrite them or be penalized.
• You must post on at least five different authors.
• You must post at least once in each “unit”
• You may only post on an author as we are reading and discussing him/her in class. The deadline for posts is one day after the last class session in which we discuss the author. Early posts are most welcomed.
I encourage, but do not require you to participate in the list other than your six posts, but doing so on a frequent basis will be taken into consideration in determining your class participation grade. In addition, e-mail is a useful way for you and me to communicate on topics such as term papers, class cancellations, etc.
Absences—More than five unexcused absences will result in a lower final grade. More than ten absences for any reason will result in your failing the course or being forced to withdraw. Absences are excused only for illness and family emergencies; absences will be excused only if you contact me before class (via email or voice mail). If you have a major health or personal emergency, please let me know as soon as possible.
Groupwork and In-class writing—You will often divide up into 4-5 person groups in which you will discuss issues related to the day’s reading material. Your contribution to your group and your group's contribution to class discussion will affect your class participation grade. In addition, we will often be writing—usually in response to a short, open-ended question about the work we're discussing—on a regular basis.
Class participation—Class participation will constitute a significant part of your grade. You will be evaluated on the frequency, quality, and originality of your comments—in short, on how much you personally contribute to the class's engagement with and understanding of the authors we are reading. I expect that you will participate in almost every class discussion; otherwise, I will assume you have not read. Please feel free to introduce new questions and topics to class discussion, and to respond directly to your fellow classmates' comments. Class participation is an assignment like any other, and while you are free to choose whether you fulfill the assignment, your grade will reflect your choice.
Plagiarism—Plagiarism, defined as the intentional representation of another person's intellectual work as your own, is an honor code violation and will not be tolerated in this class. We will be using MLA Style, so acquaint yourselves with the proper way to cite the work of other critics. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is no excuse. For further information, please consult the UNCG Academic Integrity Policy.
Monday August 19—Introduction
F 30—Native Son
M September 2—LABOR DAY (No class)
M16— Go Down, Moses
W18—Go Down, Moses
M23— Go Down, Moses
W25—Go Down, Moses
F27—Go Down, Moses
M 30—Age of Innocence
W October 2—Age of Innocence
F4—Age of Innocence
M7—Age of Innocence
W9—Age of Innocence
M14—FALL BREAK (no class)
W16—Age of Innocence, begin The Sun Also Rises
F18—The Sun Also Rises
M21—The Sun Also Rises
W23—The Sun Also Rises
F25— The Sun Also Rises
M28—The Sun Also Rises
W 30—TERM PAPER DRAFT WORKSHOP
F November 1—My Antonia
W13—My Antonia, begin The Great Gatsby
F15—The Great Gatsby
M18—The Great Gatsby
W20— The Great Gatsby
F22— The Great Gatsby
M25—The Great Gatsby
W27—THANKSGIVING (no class)
F 29—THANKSGIVING (no class)
M December 2—The Day of the Locust
W4—The Day of the Locust
F 6—The Day of the Locust
M 8—Last Day of Class
Note: Generally, you can divide books into thirds and read the first third for the first class, the second third for the second class, and the entire book by the third class. I will advertise any variations from this scheme in class.