A Cultural History of American Literature V

One Modernity, Many Modernisms: U.S. Literature from the Armory Show to the Second World War

(Prof. Dr. F. Kelleter)

Please note that this is only the default version of the syllabus. Please download the ACTUAL SYLLABUS for the winter term 2012/13, to find out about dates and modified reading assignments.
Please bring this syllabus to the first session!

You may also download a set of study questions (PDF file) for this lecture course.

for HANDOUTS click on the individual sessions

Session 1

Modernization, Modernity, Modernism in the United States

Suggested: Heinz Ickstadt, "Die amerikanische Moderne," Amerikanische Literaturgeschichte, ed. Hubert Zapf (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004), 218-303;
Further Suggestions: Malcolm Bradbury, Richard Ruland, From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), 239-368 (chapters "Outland Darts and Homemade Worlds," "The Second Flowering," "Radical Reassessments"); George Santayana, "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy."

Session 2

The Literature of Immigration: Mary Antin's The Promised Land (1912), Anzia Yezierska's Hungry Hearts (1920), and Randolph Bourne's "Trans-National America" (1916)

Reading: from Antin, The Promised Land: "Introduction," "Chapter 1. Within the Pale," "Chapter 9. The Promised Land," "Chapter 19. A Kingdom in the Slums," "Chapter 20. Heritage"; from Yezierska, Hungry Hearts: "Wings," "How I Found America."
Suggested: Bourne, "Trans-National America;" Yezierska, "The 'Fat of the Land'," Carlos Bulosan, "Be American."

Session 3

Modernist Poetry (1): Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot

Reading: Ezra Pound, F.S. Flint, "Imagist Manifestoes"; Pound, "In a Station of the Metro"; Eliot, excerpts from "Tradition and the Individual Talent","Preludes," "The Boston Evening Transcript," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".
Suggested: Pound, "A Pact"; Eliot, The Waste Land.

Session 4

Modernist Poetry (2): Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams

Reading: Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry", "Anecdote of the Jar"; Williams, "Portrait of a Lady", "The Red Wheelbarrow", "This Is Just to Say".
Suggested: Pound, "Canto XLV: With Usura"; Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream", "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", "The Idea of Order at Key West"; Williams, "The Young Housewife"; e.e. cummings, "l(a."

Session 5

The Experimental Prose of Gertrude Stein

Reading: from Three Lives: "Melanctha."
Suggested: from Tender Buttons: "Objects".

Session 6

Whatever Gets You Through the Night: The Fiction of Ernest Hemingway, particularly in the Short-Story Collections In Our Time (1925), Men Without Women (1927), and Winner Take Nothing (1933)

Reading: Hemingway, "Indian Camp," "In Another Country," "Hills Like White Elephants," "Now I Lay Me," "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," and from A Farewell to Arms: chapters 1, 6, 27, 41.
Suggested: Hemingway, "A Natural History of the Dead," and The Sun Also Rises or A Farewell to Arms in their entirety.

Session 7

A Popular Kind of Modernism: The Fiction of Ernest Hemingway (continued) and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925)

Reading: Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Session 8

"We could stand the war, but the peace has done us in": F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (continued)

Reading: see previous session.
Suggested: T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.

Session 9

Modernist Drama, Covertly and Overtly: Susan Glaspell's Trifles (1916) and Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones (1920)

Reading: Glaspell, Trifles; O'Neill, The Emperor Jones.
Suggested Further Reading: O'Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra.

Session 10

The "New Negro" Movement and the Harlem Renaissance

Reading: Alain Locke, "The New Negro"; Claude McKay: "The Harlem Dancer", "If We Must Die"; Countee Cullen, "Incident","Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song"; George Samuel Schuyler, "The Negro-Art Hokum"; Langston Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", "The Weary Blues", "I, Too", "Note on Commercial Theater", "Johannesburg Mines"; Jean Toomer, from Cane: "Fern"; Nella Larsen, from Passing: chapter 2.
Suggested: W.E.B. Du Bois, from The Souls of Black Folk: excerpts in NAAL (vol. C); Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain."

Session 11

Learning to Read: William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Reading: Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (parts 1 and 2, i.e. "April Seventh, 1928" and "June Second, 1910").
Note: These are the most demanding parts of the novel. Read with care and don't despair! For a close study of the text, the Norton Critical Edition may be the most helpful edition, as it provides good background material.

Session 12

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and the Southern Family Romance (continued)

Reading: Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (parts 3 and 4, i.e. "April Sixth, 1928" and "April Eight, 1928"), "Appendix. Compson: 1699-1945."

Session 13

Political Modernism (1): Southern Agrarians, Northern Agitators

Reading: from Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision: chapter "American Life in a Decade of Crisis at Home and Abroad"; from I'll Take My Stand by Twelve Southerners: John Crowe Ransom, "A Statement of Principles"; Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty.
Suggested: from The Enduring Vision: chapter "Crash, Depression, and New Deal"; from I'll Take My Stand: Donald Davidson, "A Mirror for Artists"; Ezra Pound, "Canto XLV: With Usura".

Session 14

Political Modernism (2): John Dos Passos's U.S.A. (1930-1938) and Richard Wright's Native Son (1940)

Reading: Dos Passos, from The Big Money: "Newsreel LXVIII", "The Camera Eye (51)", "Mary French"; Wright, from Native Son: "Book 3. Fate."

Most texts on the syllabus are included in the Norton Anthology of American Literature
(Seventh Edition, Volume D). Texts not included in Norton are provided in the course reader, which can be bought at the copy-store "Klartext."
Of the two required novels, the recommended editions are: the Penguin Modern Classics Edition for The Great Gatsby (ISBN 0-14-018067-2) and the Norton Critical Edition for The Sound and the Fury (ISBN 0-393-96481-7). It makes little sense to attend the lecture course without reading the assigned texts.
If you cannot attend this lecture course because of a scheduling conflict with other mandatory courses, please see us in advance and we will organize screenings of the lecture course for you, and provide you with material for independent study. Please understand that we can provide this service only if you contact us before the first week of classes!
For all organizational matters, please contact Birte Otten.