English 3530

Modern American Literature

Utah Valley State College
Spring 2008
Section 01
MWF 1:00-1:50, LA 103



Instructor: Ryan Simmons
Office: LA 109H
Phone: 863-6290 (x6290)
E-mail: simmonry@uvsc.edu
Office hours: MWF 10:00-12:00, or by appt.


Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. 1919. New York: Dover, 1995. ISBN 0486282694

Connaroe, Joel, ed. Eight American Poets: An Anthology. New York: Vintage, 1994. ISBN 0679776435

----. Six American Poets: An Anthology. New York: Vintage, 1991. ISBN 0679745254

Faulkner, William. Intruder in the Dust. 1948. New York: Vintage, 1991. ISBN 0679736514

Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. 1926. New York: Scribner, 2003. ISBN 0684800713

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: HarperPerennial, 1990. ISBN 0060931418

O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. 1955. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1977. ISBN 0156364654

Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives. 1909. New York: Dover, 1994. ISBN 0486280594

Course Description

The period between the turn of the century and the advent of postmodernism, roughly 1900 to 1960, produced an amazing number of important American writers. In this course we will look closely at the work of several of these writers (one extended prose work from each decade, plus numerous poems), examining them for both individuality and coherence as part of a movement of American literature. Categories such as modernism, experimentalism, realism, politics, aesthetics, and culture--and other terms and concepts suggested by recent literary theory--will be employed as they seem useful, and deconstructed when that seems more useful.

Course Requirements

Online Journal (20%): At least once a week, you are expected to contribute a journal response to course readings; these journal entries must be submitted online at a Blackboard Vista site that has been developed for our course. (Submitting your journal electronically requires you to have a UV Link ID and access to the Internet, both of which are automatically available to you as an enrolled student. If you need help with this, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.) I will provide instructions for accessing our Blackboard Vista site in class, and will also be available to guide you through the process individually if you’d like. Offline entries are permissible if you are momentarily unable to access the Web, but generally you should try to post entries online. Journal entries should be analytical in nature—raising questions, advancing hypotheses, exploring implications, etc. In most cases, they should concern themselves with readings we are about to discuss, although occasionally you may follow up on a class discussion after the fact. Because all participants’ entries will be visible online to everyone else in the class, the entries should also be dialogic—that is, you should read and, as appropriate, respond to each others’ ideas, thoughts, and questions.

PLEASE NOTE: Entries made within twenty-four hours of one another will be regarded as a single entry. In general, trying to catch up on missing entries late in the semester will have an adverse effect on your grade; trying to submit a majority of your journal entries in a short period of time is a waste of your effort, as it will result in a failing grade for the journal. Please keep in mind the main purpose of the online journal: to enhance in-class discussion. You are expected to keep on top of the journal throughout the semester; occasional minor lapses may be overcome, but flouting the purpose of this requirement is out of bounds.

Participation (20%): This portion of your grade measures the contribution you’ve made to classroom discussions on a day-to-day basis. Quality counts as well as quantity. Keeping up with the reading assignments, being involved in classroom discussion, and respectfully engaging with others’ points of view are factors that count in your favor. Missing class repeatedly will seriously impair this portion of your grade; so can habitual tardiness. Each participant will also be responsible for helping lead class discussion at least once or twice, which will be factored in as part of your participation grade.

Essays (60%): Three times during the semester, you are required to submit an out-of-class essay representing your original analysis of assigned course texts. You will have two options: responding to a prompt provided in advance of the due date, or developing your own topic. Regardless of which option you select, you are expected to demonstrate proficiency at developing an argument (or thesis), supporting it using logic and evidence, and analyzing the significance of your findings. Each of the three submissions is worth 20% of your final course grade.

Essay Policies

  1. Essays should be typed and double-spaced and include a title and page numbers. Essays are not graded on length, but rather on their ability to capture and persuade a reader. This ability arises from correctness of prose, and also from factors including clear expression, thoughtful organization, originality, completeness, and adequate support.

  2. In order to receive a passing grade, an essay must articulate and support an original analysis, moving well beyond summary of other writers' ideas and words.

  3. Material from outside sources must be cited completely and correctly using MLA style.

  4. I am always willing to read and critique work in progress, and to answer questions about your writing. When turning in an essay to be graded, you are expected to submit the best work you are capable of doing, given time constraints; thus, revisions will not be accepted after an essay has been graded.

  5. Late papers: You have three free "late days" upon entering the class. The three essays are due at the start of class on their respective due dates. Each class day an essay is turned in late counts as one late day used up. These days may be used up with one essay (turning it in three days late) or divided among more than one essay. No penalty is given for late essays turned in within these parameters, but once your late days are used up, no additional work will be accepted after its due date--late papers after that will receive no credit.

    The three late days are provided to allow for normal problems such as printer failure, forgotten notebooks, competing deadlines in other courses, etc. Once they are used up, no additional late days will be granted, regardless of the reason for being late, and any subsequent late papers will receive no credit.

Academic Honesty

Any course work that is found to violate UVSC's standards of academic honesty will be dealt with as laid out in the college's statement on "Student Rights and Responsibilities." Please read these standards, and the consequences for violating them, carefully, noting that the repercussions are always severe. In particular, be aware that plagiarism is a severe violation of both college policy and the policy of this course.

Plagiarism, or the use of others' words or ideas without proper attribution, is an impediment to your education and to the educational mission of Utah Valley State College. Under the policy of the English and Literature Department of UVSC, work that has been plagiarized must receive a failing grade. A distinction is made between unintentionally plagiarized work, which must be corrected in order to be considered for a passing grade, and intentional plagiarism, which will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Student Life as a disciplinary matter in accordance with UVSC's statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities. Please refer to http://www.uvsc.edu/engl/studentresource/plagiarismpolicy.html to read the department's full statement on plagiarism, and speak to your instructor if you have any questions about avoiding plagiarism.

Disability Accommodation

If you have a disability that may influence your ability to meet the requirements of this course, please contact the UVSC Accessibility Service Department (Room BU145) as soon as possible. Any necessary accommodations, as arranged by the Accessibility Service Department, will be made.


F 1/4Introduction to course
M 1/7Imagist Poetry (handout); Amy Lowell, "On Imagism"; Ezra Pound, "A Retrospect", "Blast" (available via Blackboard Vista)
W 1/9Gertrude Stein, "The Good Anna" (Three Lives pp. 1-46)
F 1/11Stein, "Melanchtha" (Three Lives pp. 47-141)
M 1/14Stein, "The Gentle Lena" (Three Lives pp. 142-167)
W 1/16Wallace Stevens, selected poems (Six American Poets pp. 107-142)
F 1/18William Carlos Williams, selected poems (Six American Poets pp. 143-189)
M 1/21NO CLASS - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
W 1/23Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio pp. 1-55 ("The Book of the Grotesque" through "Terror")
F 1/25Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio pp. 56-107 ("A Man of Ideas" through "Loneliness"); First set of essay topics distributed
M 1/28Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio pp. 108-153 ("An Awakening" through "Departure")
W 1/30Robert Frost, selected poems (Six American Poets pp. 191-224)
F 2/1Langston Hughes, selected poems (Six American Poets pp. 225-257)
M 2/4Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises chs. 1-6 (pp. 11-58); FIRST ESSAY DUE
W 2/6Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises chs. 7-10 (pp. 159-108)
F 2/8Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises chs. 11-13 (pp. 109-150)
M 2/11Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises chs. 14-17 (pp. 151-208)
W 2/13Note: Feb. 14 is the last day to drop courses); Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises chs. 18-19 (pp. 209-251)
F 2/15Theodore Roethke, selected poems (Eight American Poets pp. 1-27)
M 2/18NO CLASS - Presidents Day
W 2/20Elizabeth Bishop, selected poems (Eight American Poets, pp. 29-64)
F 2/22Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God chs. 1-5 (pp. 1-33)
M 2/25Hurston, Their Eyes chs. 5-6 (pp. 34-75)
W 2/27Hurston, Their Eyes chs. 7-12 (pp. 76-115)
F 2/29Hurston, Their Eyes chs. 13-17 (pp. 116-153); Second set of essay topics distributed
M 3/3TBA
W 3/5Hurston, Their Eyes chs. 18-20 (pp. 154-193)
F 3/7Robert Lowell, selected poems (Eight American Poets pp. 65-106)
M 3/10Allen Ginsberg, selected poems (Eight American Poets pp. 219-261); SECOND ESSAY DUE
W 3/12NO CLASS - Spring Break
F 3/14NO CLASS - Spring Break
M 3/17William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust chs. 1-3 (pp. 3-72)
W 3/19Faulkner, Intruder chs. 4-5 (pp. 73-116)
F 3/21Faulkner, Intruder chs. 6-8 (pp. 117-175)
M 3/24Faulkner, Intruder chs. 9-11 (pp. 176-241)
W 3/26Film: Intruder in the Dust (1949), dir. Clarence Brown
F 3/28Film, continued, plus discussion
M 3/31Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," "The River" (pp. 1-46)
W 4/2O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "A Stroke of Good Fortune" (pp. 47-79); Third set of essay questions distributed
F 4/4O'Connor, "A Temple of the Holy Ghost," "The Artificial Nigger" (pp. 80-126)
M 4/7O'Connor, "A Circle in the Fire," "A Late Encounter with the Enemy" (pp. 127-166)
W 4/9O'Connor, "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person" (pp. 167-252)
F 4/11Anne Sexton, selected poems (Eight American Poets pp. 157-190); THIRD ESSAY DUE
M 4/14Sylvia Plath, selected poems (Eight American Poets pp. 191-218)
W 4/16Course wrap-up
W 4/23Last possible chance to submit course work (if you retain sufficient late days)
here for Ryan Simmons's main homepage.