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Course Name:
American Literature: From Bible Thumpers to Beatniks
Form of Study:
full-time; lecture + seminar
Year / Semester:
3rd year, 6th semester
In-class presentation and final exam
Sini Eikonsalo, MA
[email protected]
Course description:
In this course, students will learn about the most important trends in American literature from the
colonial period to the middle of the 20th century and authors who belong to the primary American
literary canon within this time frame. The course in concluded in a lecture/seminar format, meaning
the first 80 minutes of each session will be in lecture form, which is always followed by a 40-minute
seminar. During the seminars, we will discuss and analyze the readings (a short story, novel, poetry
or drama), assigned for that lecture.
The readings for the course will be uploaded on Teams.
Course requirements:
Keeping up with the weekly readings
Active participation in seminar discussions
Brief in-class presentations (list of topics will be given later)
Final exam (brief essay questions covering the lecture materials) and an oral exam on the
course readings
Course outline:
1. Lecture: Literature of the colonial period
2. Lecture: Advent of the Enlightenment
Seminar: Benjamin Franklin: 2 pamphlets
3. Lecture: Romanticism I (Gothic and fantasy)
Seminar: Washington Irving: "The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow", Edgar Allan Poe: "The Black Cat",
"The Tell-Tale Heart", Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Birthmark"
4. Lecture: Romanticism II - political romanticism
Seminar: The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience
5. Lecture: American Realism and Naturalism I
Seminar: Kate Chopin: "A Respectable Woman", The Story of an Hour and 4 other short stories
6. Lecture: American Realism and Naturalism II
Seminar: Ambrose Bierce: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of
Courage (synopsis + excerpt), Theodore Dreiser: "Typhoon"
7. Lecture: American Modernism I (narrative techniques)
Seminar: Ernest Hemingway: “Hills like White Elephants”, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”, William
Faulkner: “A Rose for Emily”
8. Lecture: American Modernism II (zeitgeist - the spirit of the jazz age)
Seminar: F. S. Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
9. Lecture: 19th through mid-20th century American poetry
Seminar: Selected poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Ezra Pound,
Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg
10. Lecture: American drama
Seminar: Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman, Edward Albee: The Zoo Story
11. Lecture: American prose of the middle of the 20th century
Seminar: Bernard Malamud: “The Magic Barrel”, “Armistice”
12. Lecture: American prose of the middle of the 20th century
Seminar: Jerome David Salinger: “Perfect Day for a Bananafish”
Compulsory literature:
LAUTER, P., YARBOROUGH, R., ALBERTI, J., BRADY, M. (2008). The Heath Anthology of American
literature: Volume A: the Beginnings to 1900. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Anthology of American literature: Volume C: Late Nineteenth Century. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
LAUTER, P., YARBOROUGH, R., CHEUNG, K., MOLESWORTH, C. (2005). The Heath Anthology of
American literature, Early Nineteenth Century: 1800 - 1865. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
PROCHÁZKA, M., QUINN, J., ULMANOVÁ, H., RORABACK, E. (2002). Lectures on American Literature.
RULAND, R., BRADBURY, M. (1991). From Puritanism to Postmodernism. New York: Viking Penguin.
Recommended literature:
1. BERCOVITCH, S. (ed.), (1994). The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: CUP.
2. BRADBURY, M. (1992). The Modern American Novel. Oxford: OUP
3. ELLIOTT, E. et al (eds.), (2001). Columbia Literary History of the United States. Columbia University
4. HENDIN, J. (ed.), (2004). A Concise Companion to Postwar American Culture and Literature.
5. MINTER, D. (1996). A Cultural History of the American Novel. Cambridge: CUP.