Am Lit Mid-19th to Mid-20th C

(W) and (O) foci


United States literature from 1850 to 1950 in many respects laid the foundation for the most significant aesthetic and cultural currents of the years since 1950. The poetry, essays, and fiction of these decades dealt with the drastic – and for some groups, extremely difficult, even catastrophic – social and cultural changes brought about by industrialization, capitalism, the closing of the “Frontier”, the expansion of US power in the Asia and Pacific regions, and so on. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden certainly resonates with the most urgent concerns of contemporary times. The Heath Anthology offers an inclusive and more complete depiction (relative to other such anthologies) of US cultural production during this century.

This class has a (W) Writing Intensive focus designation, which means a substantial amount of formal and informal writing; it also has an (O) focus designation, meaning O assignments include three (5 to 10 minutes, each) in-class oral presentations.

Student learning outcomes:

  • The ability to identify the major literary themes, authors, and texts of the period;
  • The ability to use thoughtfully, in class discussions and written assignments, literary terms and critical concepts appropriate to a 300-level course;
  • To begin to acquire strategies for connecting texts to a broader cultural and historical context.

Final grade based on:

  • One (analysis or persuasive) essay; minimum 8-pages, double-spaced;
  • Three response papers; each paper will be a minimum of 2-pages, double-spaced;
  • Final Exam – multiple choice;
  • Three in-class presentations (5 to 10 minutes) with a 2-page (double-spaced) paper (analysis or persuasive) to accompany each presentation.

Required texts include:

  • Lauter, Paul. The Concise Heath Anthology of American Literature, 1865 to the Present, 2nd (ordered through the UHM Bookstore). The Bookstore may not be able to find enough USED paperbacks for purchase; it may be able to rent out the textbook. The textbook is also offered for rental by online retailers.
  • Thoreau, Walden, “Economy” and Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” (PDF; provided by instructor)