Survey of American Literature: 1865 to Present (traditional)

1865 to Present
ENGL 3310
Andrew Hoberek
Course Description

This course provides a survey of American writing since the mid-nineteenth-century. Although the course technically begins in 1865 (the year the Civil War ended), we will cheat a bit by starting with a work written just before the Civil War began: Herman Melville’s 1857 The Confidence Man, about a con man who fleeces his fellow passengers on a steamship traveling from St. Louis to New Orleans. In addition, we will read two other novels: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom (1936) and Valeria Luiselli’s The Lost Children Archives (2019), supplementing them with short stories from three affordable Dover volumes—American Short Story Masterpieces, Great Short Stories by African-American Writers, and Great Short Stories by Native American Writers—along with poetry available on the internet. Over the course of the semester, we will read a swath of the best American writing of the last century-and-a-half or so, attending to the major themes and formal innovations that shape this period’s literary history. We will alternate in person meetings on Monday and Wednesday, with everyone taking quizzes and participating in online discussion boards on Friday. Grades will be based on a combination of participation (in-person and online), quizzes, and your choice of 2 out of 3 short papers.