American Lit since Mid-20C

Required Text
The Heath Anthology Of American Literature: Contemporary
Period (1945 To The Present), Volume E, 6th Edition By Lauter, ET AL.

downloadable edition or softcover)

Goals, Organization, Procedures:

Literatures of the United States from the
mid-20th century to the present include the work of Nobel Prize
winners and writers who have been influential around the world. It has also
been an extremely exciting time in terms of innovations to genre, the evolution
of ideas about identity, aesthetics, gender, nation, culture, political life,
and other social issues. The Heath Anthology, the text for
this class, includes a broad range of fiction writers, poets, and essayists writing
on watershed events in United States culture and letters. Lyrical, sometimes
polemical, always compelling, these writers depict and critique profound
changes in the U. S. of the past 60 years. Our engagement with the literature
will be focused on the following thematic clusters: 1) Aesthetics and Politics
of the 1960’s and 1970’s: Black, Brown, Yellow, Red; 2) Landmark Legislation;
3) Nature and Spirituality; 4) America in the World/ The World in America:
Globalization and Post-9/11 American Culture.

This class has both (W) Writing Intensive and (O) Oral Communication focus
designations. Be prepared to do a substantial amount of formal and informal
writing and class discussions. Class discussions emphasize collaboration; this
is a group directed reading and writing and not primarily a lecture class. You
will benefit most from the course if you engage with the wide variety of
literature by paying close attention to the ways that authors convey emotions
and ideas. We’ll use a common literary vocabulary that is not, however, to be
considered the only way to talk about literature. 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;
  • The ability to use, 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.


Requirements include:

  • Two essays
    (minimum of 6 pages, double-spaced, typed, 1-inch margins);
  • Three response
    papers (minimum of 2, double-spaced pages);
  • An individual
    class presentation of 5 to 10 minutes, accompanied by a 2-page, double-spaced
  • Short performance or short play (individually or in a group
    of no more than 2) (10 to 15 minutes), using original performance piece written
    in response to selected text from reading list;
  • Final take-home, essay exam.