skip to content
  • Calendar
  • Maps

American Literature II  -  From the Civil War to the Present



Dear Students, 

Please note that this is NOT the correct syllabus for American Literature II, Fall 2020.  The correct syllabus is accessible from our 3620 Canvas page from where it can be viewed and downloaded. I will also send you a file attachment for the syllabus in time for the beginning of our class. If you would, in the meantime, like to look at or download it, please go to the Pages link on our Canvas page. Thank you, and my apologies for any confusion this might cause.


This reading schedule is meant to be suggestive only. In the event we find that we need to spend more time on a text/section than originally allocated -- or allow more time for oral reports -- we can adjust our syllabus accordingly. You should also know that one of the signs of a good class discussion is that we will not have time to address all the reading that has been assigned for a certain day. Formally, the class will proceed through discussion, group workshops, and occasional lecturing. Commonly, I will announce at the end of each class the assignment for the next session.

Please explore  MAL PAL CAL PAL & JAZZ PAL regularly for useful links to modern & contemporary American literature sites, as you prepare for class and research your interests. Many of these sites contain numerous other links. You might also find the (rather skeletal) Theory PAL useful on occasion. — As you find additional sites we should all know about, please let us know! 

The Gilded Age, Realism, and Naturalism — 1865-1914

M 24  
  • Introduction – 160 years in 16 weeks
W 26  
  • The Gilded Age and Beyond + Timeline, Norton Anthology, 1-20 
F 28  
  • A Poetics of Paradox - Emily Dickinson, 82-100, selections
M 31  
  • A Poetics of Paradox - Emily Dickinson ctd.
W 2      
F 4  
  • Embracing the I and the Cosmos - Walt Whitman, 21-81, selections
    • "Song of Myself" (esp. #1-15), "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "The Wound Dresser," "When Lilacs Last . . . ." 
    • ("Passage to India")
M 7  

Labor Day  ***** No Class *****

W 9       
F 11  
  • Patriot Day - Immigration East and West
    • Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” etc. 429-432
M 14      
W 16      
F 18  
  • Realism and Naturalism, Norton, 578-594
    • William Dean Howells, from “Editor’s Study” 
    • Henry James, from “The Art of Fiction”
    • Frank Norris, “A Plea for Romantic Fiction,” etc.
M 21  
  • Realism and Naturalism ctd.
    William Dean Howells, "Editha," 314-326

    The Muckrackers ___________________________________________________________
W 23  
  • "Local Colorists" of the West
    • Mark Twain, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” 101-107
    • fyi, Mark Twain on Mormonism I, II

      The Transcontinental Railroad _______________________________________________

F 25  
  • "Local Colorists" of the West ctd.
    Bret Harte, “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” 306-314

    ***** Notebook #1 due in Canvas *****
M 28      
W 30  
  • Upper-Class and "Realism" ctd.
    • Edith Wharton, “The Other Two,” “Roman Fever,” 524-549
    • Discussion Questions: Edith Wharton, "The Other Two"
F 2  
  • African American Leadership - City & Country, North & South, The Law & Labor
    • Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, 469-479
    • Handout: Booker T. Washington - A Politics of Discrimination? 
M 5  
  • African American Leadership ctd.
    • W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 559-577
W 7  
  • Versions of American Literary Naturalism
    • Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie, 595-611
F 9   RMMLA 2020, Boulder, CO  ***** no class *****    
M 12  
  • Versions of American Literary Naturalism ctd.
    • Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat," 611-630

      The Ashcan School ____________________________________________

American (Literary) Modernism, 1914-1945

M 12  
  • American Literature, 1914-1945 + Timeline, 666-87
W 14  
  • PPP, Pedaling to Power—Women on the Wheels of Change
F 16   Fall Break  ***** No Class *****     
M 19  
  • Ecology, Climate Change, Fiction
    • Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island
W 21  
  • Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island,  

    Gun Island I  _____________________________________________________________
F 23  
  • Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island 

    Gun Island II  ____________________________________________________________
M 26  

Q & A with Amitav Ghosh, COVID-19 permitting 

W 28  
  • "The Woman Question"
    • Willa Cather, “Neighbour Rosicky,” ("The Sculptor's Funeral"?) 691-724
    • from “The Novel Démeublé 812-814

      ***** Notebook #2 due in Canvas *****
F 30  
  • Robert Frost, 735-750, selections
M 2  
  • Robert Frost ctd.
  • Carl Sandburg, 772-775
W 4  
  • Modernist Manifestomania, or, the Poetics (and Politics) of High Modernism, 803-816
    • F. T. Marinetti, from “Manifesto of Futurism”
    • Mino Loy, “Feminist Manifesto”
    • Ezra Pound, from “A Retrospect”

      Margaret Sanger  _____________________________________________________________
F 6      
M 9      
W 11  
  • The Harlem Renaissance 2
    • Jean Toomer, Cane, 967-973
    • Zora Neale Hurston, “Sweat,” “How it Feels to Be Colored Me,” 948-960
F 13  
  • The Harlem Renaissance 2
    • Langston Hughes, 1036-1044
M 16      
W 18  
  • C’est La Vie – Americans in Paris
    • (Gertrude Stein, from The Making of Americans, 729-735)
    • Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants,” 1030-1036
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Winter Dreams,” “Babylon Revisited,” 973-1005 
F 20  
  • C’est La Vie – Americans in Paris
M 23  
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors - Hollywood & Film Noir
    • James M. Cain, Double Indemnity (1936)
W 25      

Contemporary American Literature, 1945-present (sort of)

F 27   Thanksgiving  ***** no class *****    
M 30  
  • Introduction + Timelines, 1069-1090

    ***** Final Paper or FDP due in CANVAS *****
W 2  
  • Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, 1221-1288

    McCarthyism & the Red Scare II _______________________________________________________
F 4  
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, 1300-1304
  • James Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues," 1343-1365

    Bebop _________________________________________________________________________
  • Final Exam Review & Additional Office Hours
M 7   ***** Final Exam due in CANVAS, 12:00 High Noon, or sooner *****
Thank you for being in this class.  Enjoy winter break!


Here I am beginning to collect useful websites for our class (in addition to our resource hubs).  Please take a look!


Concluding Note


The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. My door is always open, and if it is not open, please knock; I will answer if I am there. Please don't hesitate to stop by.

Last updated, 12 May 2020

Let's Connect!

mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

LebenslaufCurriculum Vitae
Weber – The Contemporary West
Follow Me On Facebook Follow Me On Twitter

Mailing Address


Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA