Hi Students,

The new syllabus isn’t easy to load, so I’m going to try to paste it here:

Learning Goals

  1. This course follows the argument that there is so much great American literature, even if we merely accept the synecdoche that American literature is written by or for U.S. citizens that we will not be able to survey all of them and have fun conversations about literature and have lives. We are, instead, exploring great works of American literature that give us an opportunity to explore and reflect on the “literaturization” of American experience and national aesthetics.
  2. Capacity to read interpretively in order to attend to imaginative claims on “America,” and over what it means to be a person in several literary genres over different periods of United States literature.
  3. Knowledge of rhetorical conventions (e.g., voice, tone, figures of speech, narration) for thinking about literature in a few genres.
  4. Familiarity with some conventional disciplinary language from literary studies and its use to think about how texts work.
  5. Uses of reading, discussion, informal writing, and out-of-class essay writing as opportunities to discover one’s own interpretive ideas in conversation with the ideas of others.
  6. Produce critical and creative compositions.
  7. Communicate complex ideas to a public audience.
W 1/31 The Invitation: Syllabus and Trickster tale
Homework: Comp book, journal about breathing, read Whitman
W 2/7 Song of Myself and Intro to Leaves of Grass
  Homework: Exquisite Corpse Revision
W 2/14 Emerson, “Nature,” and “Experience.” Share 3 annotations, journal reading reflections.
  Homework: Image collection and comments
W 2/21 Black Elk Speaks. Hand in Comp Books.
  Homework: Continue class exercise in journal.
W 2/28 Black Elk Speaks
  Homework: Images and connections journal entry
W 3/7 Black Elk Speaks
  Homework: Synthesis journal entry
W 3/14 William Carlos Williams  and American Moderns, annotation exercise.
  Homework: poetry exercise, paste in journal.
W 3/21 Class Cancelled: Snow Day
  Homework: Annotations in Howl book.
W 3/28 Howl and Supermarket in California. In-class reading includes “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” some excerpts by William Carlos Williams, and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
  Homework: flesh out annotations into a page of notes and reflections, following this general model:


“Pg. (#) intriguing. Lots of imagery. There’s a fullness here, like the poet is overwhelming my senses, and it mixes gross and appealing images. Seems ironic that he’s praising both.”


On another page, reflect on an aspect of “Howl” or “Supermarket in California.” Include details and analysis of the text as well as some reflection on how your background knowledge and experience, or lack of it, are brought to bear on what you notice and how you interpret Ginsberg’s poem.



Finish midterm zine and submit in next class.

Complete essay on Black Elk Speaks and submit by April 11th at 9:30pm.


NO CLASS W 4/11 – classes on F sched. Read “Bartleby the Scrivener” in preparation for our next class, held Wednesday April 18th.

Journal entry: in your composition book, draw a portrait of the two central characters in “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and draw an “anatomy” of their character, pointing out two or three of their characteristics. Example.

W 4/18 In class with rhetorical analysis:

Ralph Waldo Ellison, “Living with Music.”

  Homework: TBA
W 4/25 Beloved
  Homework: journal writing.
W 5/2 Beloved. Hand in comp books.
  Homework: Images and reflections
W 5/9 Beloved
W 5/16 Final project zine due by 11:59pm
Final Exams 5/17-5/24  





Revised Syllabus


As I mentioned in our last class, I’ve decided to revise our course syllabus in order to give  students more time to read and prepare for class. The reading will be divided so that a useful fraction of it is completed in class, in the context of the course discussion.

This week you will receive your composition books. Please note that you will be expected to copy pages of your book for your final project zine. With this in mind, it is vital that you make your writing legible. Your work will be shown to other students in the class.

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