English 207,  American Literature from the Late Nineteenth Century to the    Present

Dr. Anne Mills King       

This is a generic syllabus without dates to let you know what to expect.


Beginning with popular women's narratives of the late nineteenth century, this course will follow exciting developments in the literature of the developing West, the Postwar South, the "innocent" American facing sophisticated Europe, and the emerging black consciousness. We will read works by the inimitable Mark Twain. A section follows on American writers between the two World Wars; then selected contemporary prose and poetry will bring us to the writers of the present time. Students will be able to present individual special projects, journals, papers, and tests for credit in this section of the course. The class will be enlivened by films, lectures, class discussions, and a library visit. Text will be The Heath Anthology of American Literature Fourth Edition, Vol. 2.

My office: Marlboro 3056. Hours posted on door. Phone: 301‑322‑0594, email aking@pgcc.edu My web page: http://academic.pgcc.edu/~aking has this syllabus and other information.

Class attendance in college: what I expect from you:

!               You are expected to attend college classes in a mature, serious manner.

!               You must come to class on time and stay until the class is dismissed

!               Since the class lasts only one month, attendance at all sessions is compulsory.  Arrange your life accordingly.  If you miss more than four classes, you will lose credit for attendance.

!               If you need to leave the classroom during the class time, do not return and disrupt the class a second time.  Let me know and we will all take a break.

!               I expect mature, responsible behavior‑‑like arriving in class on time and being respectful to others at all times. Please turn off your cell phones.  All papers must be typed.

What to expect from me:

!               I’m available!  Call or send me an e‑mail if you have a problem, and I will return your call.

!               When deadlines are announced, they will be firm. Tests cannot be made up, unless by special arrangement before the test is given.

!               You are responsible for much of the research on the writers and their works, using the library facilities. I will tie it all together with videos, handouts, and other materials to make your study of American literature more rewarding and fascinating. You will be amazed at how the writers we study mesh with what you have learned in history, psychology, and sociology courses.




                In class, expect to have a relaxed, informal atmosphere with much student participation. We will all read a list of works, and you will choose from the anthology a writer or group of writers as your own project to report on to the class.

!               Plagiarism:  Any material plagiarized (not your own) results in serious consequences: fail the assignment, fail the course, or expulsion from the College). 

!               This exciting anthology and your instructor are here to help make your study of American Literature more rewarding and fascinating. Films, music, video, and possible excursions will keep you lively and awake, as will the mini‑lessons and projects presented by your classmates. There is no smoking anywhere in the building; however, noiseless eating or drinking is acceptable.

!               Grading: You will have six grades to make up the final grade for the course, including a journal of your reading. A journal contains your reactions to the assigned reading, not a rehash of plot or class notes. It includes daily class journal writing and quizzes, your comments, how the reading relates to your interests, and may include clippings, newspaper or magazine book reviews or articles, drawings, or creative writing.

!               Paper 2 is a longer paper on a theme connected with the course, due at the end of the course.  It may also include a  presentation of a slide show, work in another medium, research in oral history, or other imaginative presentations relating to the course. Talk these over with me as soon as possible so that you can plan to share them with the class. Specific instructions for each paper follow.

Here's how I figure grades: A= 3.6‑4.; B= 2.6‑3.5; C= 1.6‑2.5; D= .8‑1.5; F= 0.


Your assignments for this course will be varied enough so that you will be able to do your best work to be presented for grading. The work for this class will consist of both graded and ungraded assignments; all are required to receive a final grade.

!               The graded assignments will consist of the following

!               An oral report on an author not assigned (from the list) : 10- minute mini‑lesson in class (25% of grade).

!               A longer paper or project on a theme connected with the course. This is to be reported on orally to the class before writing, and will be due at the end of the course.   More instruction on this later. 25% of grade.

!               Presence of a satisfactory Journal (10%), quizzes (5%), attendance (10%)

Final test (25% of grade)

To pass the course, all of the above are required:



The Journal: The presence of a Journal can include the preliminary drafts of the analytical papers, reactions to your reading as you read, questions for discussion in class, responses to questions put by the instructor, newspaper clippings and programs of cultural events, the products of in‑class writing periods and quizzes, comments on your classmates' oral reports, and other things listed in the handout "What is a Journal?". I will read and comment on your Journal at intervals, though your grade will come at the end. The journal is a way to communicate, and a mine for material for your papers as well as a guide for study for your tests.

DEADLINES are firm and indicated on the assignment sheet. Tests are given on the day announced; there are no make‑up tests.


Study guides are sheets which I make up and hand out to you. They generally consist of questions, on the theory that in this course there are more questions than answers! Occasionally I may outline for you a particularly difficult or very important selection. You might ask‑‑"What am I to do with these things?" What you should NOT do is stick them away and forget about them. What you might do is one or more of the following:

!               Each take one question, discuss in class. You are responsible for all information on all the questions for tests, so you should listen to the other class members' responses.

!               Use them as a guide to reading, explanations, further notes.

!               Use them as a guide towards the papers and projects you are working on, to find a "handle" on the material for further writing.

!               Use them as starting points for informal Journal entries.

!               Use them as hints of possible future exam questions or daily quiz questions.



EGL 207:  American Literature from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present                                     




Students successfully completing the course will be able to:


1.  Identify major authors and works of the period from the Civil War to the present and explain their contexts

2.  Identify and describe important literary movements and place specific works in their contexts.

3.  Explain how the social and intellectual climate has influenced the themes of recent American literature.

4.  Explain how literature reflects basic themes in American cultural history.

5.  Apply at least one critical approach to reading and analyzing a text with documented sources.

6.  Identify important literary forms in American literature



The starred items on this list are those you will all read.  In addition, you’ll choose an author we are not all reading from the anthology for your class oral report.  So explore your book with care, so we can fill in the gaps through discussion.


Freeman, "Revolt of Mother"

John and Old Marster

Jewett, "The White Heron."

*Twain, "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg" and "The War Prayer."

*Crane, "War is Kind" "A Mystery of Heroism"

*James, Daisy Miller

*Chopin, The Awakening (start this early; it’s a novel)

Dunbar‑Nelson, "Sister Josepha,"

*Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper

*Wharton, "Roman Fever,"

Cather, "Coming, Aphrodite"

*Glaspell, Trifles

*Robert Frost (selections)

*Poems by T.S. Eliot,   Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land

Edna St Vincent Millay (all)

Antin, The Promised Land


*Hurston, "The Gilded Six Bits"

Porter, "Flowering Judas A

Fitzgerald, "May Day"

*Hemingway "Hills Like White Elephants"

*Blues Lyrics

DiDonato, Christ in Concrete

*Arthur Miller "The Crucible,"

Bulosan, from America is in the Heart

Marshall, To Dah-Duh: In Memoriam

*Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Plath, Lady Lazarus

Sexton, Her Kind 

*Toni Morrison, from Sula (1922)

Mukherjee, A Wife’s Story

Rita Dove, Poems

*Kingston, from "The Woman Warrior"

*Erdrich, "Love Medicine"

*Silko, Lullaby


Reading Schedule:


DATE                                                     Assignment




Introduction to the book, your classmates, the assignments.  Start reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; this contains most of the themes of the course and is a good summer read. 



Jewett, ”The White Heron”  Freeman “The Revolt of Mother” 



Mark Twain-- Library Visit (information to come)

The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg”  “The War Prayer”



Crane “Mystery of Heroism”  “War is Kind”



James, “Daisy Miller”



Hurston, “The Gilded Six Bits” 



Blues Lyrics, makeup missed readings



Wharton “Roman Fever”  Student reports:  Rona Aquino, Louisa May Alcott; Felicia Quarles-Dunmore, Harriet Prescott Spofford



Glaspell  “Trifles,”   Gilman “The Yellow Wallpaper”



Robert Frost ( a few poems in class)  Mia Watson, W.E.B. DuBois



Midterm exam. Finish The Awakening. “Barn Burning”



Miller “The Crucible”  Laura Green, Constance Fenimore Woolson; Beverley Collier, Sherwood Anderson



Ginsberg  “Howl,”  Hemingway “Hills Like White Elephants”

Sherry Wilson, Ann Petry; Yolanda Wilson John Steinbeck



Morrison from “Sula”  Daryl Davis, Richard Wright; Kimberly Stanton, Alice Walker



Poems: Millay (all)  Amber Woods, Langston Hughes



Kingston, from “A Woman Warrior”  Tiffany Bremby, Gertrude Bonnin; Jeoffrey Mendez, Malcolm X



Erdrich  “Love Medicine”,  James Bresnihan, Jose Marti; Angela Bowling, Gwendolyn Brooks




Silko  “Lullaby”; add any favorites to the list?

Malvina Bowlding, John Barth;  John Burton—some poems



Final Exam.  Journal due for grading. 







At the beginning of each class you will have a short quiz; this will be the basis of discussion and will count towards your grade.  Choose a writer from the book for your report early; the first one to sign up for one gets it, so we have a variety of topics to share.  Take notes on others’ presentations, both to evaluate them and to know more about their topics.  I do expect you to read the works assigned to everyone (should this be a surprise?)   

Above all, enjoy this summer’s excursion into modern and contemporary American Literature!