American Lit 1850-1950

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. Some of the topics we shall consider, as mapped
out in The Heath include: realism(s),
narratives of native nations, writing and place, the “new negro renaissance,” “outside/inside
U.S.A.: expansion and immigration,” “experimentation.”

This class is a combination of class discussion and lecture.
It has a (W) Writing Intensive focus
designation, which means a substantial amount of formal and informal writing. 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 their
impressions, 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 should be the development of reasoned, thoughtful and self-reflexive
analysis and research skills.

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) essay; minimum 8-pages, double-spaced;

·       Four
response papers; each paper will be a minimum of 2-pages, double-spaced;

·       Final
Exam – multiple choice;

·       Class
presentation (5 to 19 minutes) with a 2-page (double-spaced) paper.

Required texts include:

Paul. The Concise Heath Anthology of American Literature, 1865 to the
2nd edition, 2014 (ordered through the UHM Bookstore);

Walden – selection (web).