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
The Modern African-American Novel
Richard Wright, Native Son
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Cultures and Codes
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Variations on the American Dream
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
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 eight "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. 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%), an assigned presentation (10%), a short term paper that you will present to the class as a second oral assignment (30%), 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 grade for this assignment will be split 65/35 between the written assignment and the oral presentation of it.
Assigned Oral Presentations—Your first presentation will be on a topic
assigned to supplement the class's understanding of a novel we are reading.
The assignments here will differ, from reporting on a another novel, to exploring
a particular facet of a writer's life (Richard Wright and Communism, for example),
to examining a contemporary historical event or cultural crisis. Although the
organization of your presentation may differ slightly from topic to topic,
the following will serve as a basic format for the 8-minute presentations:
introduction (1 minute): overview of your presentation and its significance
summary of material (3 minutes): what is the basic information you wish to convey?
significance (3 minutes): what is the significance of this information? How does it relate to the text at hand?
questions (1 minute): what questions, related to your presentation, would you like the class to discuss?
I will distribute a sign-up sheet in the next few class meetings. Because presentations will be keyed to particular class sessions, and because of the number of presentations, you cannot make up a presentation.
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.
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.
Groupwork—You will often divide up into 4-5 person groups in which you will discuss issues related to the day’s reading material. Typically, this will involve choosing a spokesperson to communicate your group's discussion to the rest of the class. Your contribution to your group and your group's contribution to class discussion will affect your class participation grade.
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 16—Introduction
W18—Native Son, What is a novel? Sign up for oral presentations
F 27—Native Son
M 30— Native Son
W September 1—Their Eyes Were Watching God
F3—Their Eyes Were Watching God
M6— LABOR DAY (No class))
W8—Their Eyes Were Watching God
M13— Invisible Man
F17— Invisible Man
M20— Invisible Man
W22— Age of Innocence
F24— Age of Innocence
M 27— Age of Innocence
W 9—Age of Innocence
F October 1—open class
W6—The Sound and the Fury
F8— The Sound and the Fury
M11—FALL BREAK (no class)
W13— The Sound and the Fury
F15— The Sound and the Fury
M18— The Sound and the Fury , begin The Sun Also Rises
W20— The Sun Also Rises
F22— The Sun Also Rises, TERM PAPER ABSTRACTS DUE
M25— The Sun Also Rises
W 37— The Sun Also Rises
F 29—open class
M November 1— The Great Gatsby
W3— The Great Gatsby
M 8— The Great Gatsby
W10— The Great Gatsby
F12— Day of the Locust
M15— The Day of the Locust
W17— The Day of the Locust
F19— The Day of the Locust
W24—THANKSGIVING (no class)
F 26—THANKSGIVING (no class)
M 29— present research
W December 1— present research
F December 3— present research
M6— present research
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.