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Modern American Literature



This reading schedule (as well as the section titles) is meant to be suggestive, not prescriptive, chronological, or inclusive. 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 consult our text for the pagination of our readings and read the bio sketches in advance.

Please also note that this semester is short by a week, so plan accordingly as you allocate reading, research and writing time for your projects.


Week 1–2

General Introduction: What is Modernism? How many are there?

Week 2–4

Writing from the Margin: The African-American Experience

  • "Modernism and the New Negro Renaissance" (review)
  • "The New Negro Renaissance"
  • Booker T. Washington W. E. B. Du Bois
  • (Jean Toomer) Langston Hughes (sel)
  • Wild Women Don't Have The Blues (1989, documentary, time permitting)
  • The Blues Queens ________________________
  • Zora Neale Hurston _______________________

*** Notebook 1 due at end of week 4 ***

Week 5–7

Old and New Frontiers I: The City, the Country, the Inequality of Gender

Week 8–9

The Provincetown Players: Modern American Drama & Expressionism

*** Notebook 2 due at end of week 8 ***

Week 10–12

The Poetics (and Politics) of "High" Modernism: Imagism and Its Discontents

  • Ezra Pound W C Williams
  • Marianne Moore (Wallace Stevens)
  • Am. Precisionism _________________________
  • William Faulkner _________________________

*** Notebook 3 due at end of week 12 ***

Week 13–15

The Great Depression, Hollywood, and Film Noir
Final Exam Review

*** Paper Due Date: Tuesday, 8 December 2015 ***

Please consult the Editing Checklist for essential pointers regarding your essay.

Week 16 Final exam as per exam schedule

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.

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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