American Literature Since Mid-20th Century


ENG 338 (W) (O): American Literature Since Mid-20th Century– Dr. Ruth Y. Hsu
Delivery format:  In-person

Required Texts:  

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume E (selection)

Spiegelman, Maus I (1986, graphic novel).

Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy (2007; graphic novel).

Satrapi, Persepolis (2004; graphic novel).

Zhao, Nomadland (2020; film).


Goals, Organization, Procedures:      This is a very momentous period of literatures of the United States, marked by numerous internationally influential authors. It is also an adventurous time in terms of the radical reimagining of identity, aesthetics, and cultural, political, and social life. The main text in this class—The Heath Anthology–contains a wide range of fiction writers, playwrights, poets, and essayists: Lyrical, original, and always worth the time and effort, the writers of the mid-20th century to the present engage readers emotionally and intellectually on some of the profoundest events and transformations in the U. S. of the past 60 to 70 years, affecting the very definition of “America.”


The (W) Writing Intensive and (O) Oral Communication focus designations of this class mean that your grade consists of formal and informal writing (including revisions of papers) and individual and group class presentations. Among your goals in this class should be the development of independent, analytical, interpretative and research skills.


Student Learning Outcomes include:

  • The ability to identify the major literary themes, authors and texts of the period;
  • To be able to analyze via literary terms the ways that writers ‘put together’ a story, a poem, and so on.
  • The ability to use in class presentations, discussions and writing assignments literary terms and concepts appropriate to a 300-level course;
  • To begin to acquire strategies for connecting texts to a broader cultural and historical context.


Requirements include: 

  • Two individual presentations (5 to 10 minutes each) drawn from the Heath anthology; two 2-page papers on the presentations;
  • One two-person group presentation (10 to 15 minutes) based on the graphic novels and the film;
  • One analytical/persuasive/argumentative essay (minimum 8 pages, double-spaced);
  • One take-home final.