Survey of American Literature, 1865-Present
This class is about conflicting realities in U.S. writing, from the close of the Civil War to the present day. We will look at the kinds of stories different groups of people told about themselves and the places they lived, how some groups were invisible to others (despite being right there), how other groups struggled to tell stories about their humanity in the face of ignorance and violence. We will address the usual -isms of the survey (realism, naturalism, modernism, postmodernism) but be concerned with two overarching questions: Why were these writers compelled to tell the stories that they told at that particular moment in time? What can those works and their conflicts tell us about how these writers viewed the U.S., its history and potential future? Writers will include Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Zitkala-Sa, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, George Saunders. Assignments include two tests, two essays, one group project/presentation. English department diversity credit.