English 203: American Literature
Spring 2014

Professor: Dr. Robert Lynch
Office: Grainger G08
Office Hours: MW: 11:00-11:50. TR 8:30-9:20 and by appt.
Telephone: 395-2167
Email: Lynchrl

Course Description:

English 203: American Literature. A study of significant movements and traditions in fiction and poetry by major American authors such as Bradstreet, Emerson, Faulkner, Hemingway, Hughes, and Eliot. This course usually takes a thematic focus.

This section will examine the theme of growing up in America and confronting troubling social values. Specifically, we will study a number of nineteenth and twentieth-century bildugsroman and will examine the difficulties individuals have encountered across centuries and across subcultures in their rites of passage . The course will examine not only childhood but the changing social landscape and its effects on children and the processes of maturation. Such a focus provides some framework for examining the American identity, American psyche, American values, the American family, and nearly every American social and political institution.

In addition, we will discuss the major tenets of the major and minor literary movements in American Literature, including realism, naturalism, impressionism, modernism, and postmodernism as they apply to the works we're reading.



Note: This is a course in the study of literature not a course in pleasure reading.  In order to better understand the texts, to come to "own" them, we must annotate and interact with the texts.  Thus, we will be marking them up; so consider them as consumable products much as you would a "workbook" in another course.  (If you choose to sell the texts at the end of the course the bookstore does not reduce the buy back price due to markings in the books!)

English 203 (Goal 3) Required Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:  

1. Understand major movements, themes, and values in one or more cultures as revealed in literature.  

2. Analyze literary texts as reflections of cultural movements, themes, and values.  

3. Develop and defend interpretations of literary texts through written discourse.

In this course, we will strive to meet the nine criteria for all general education courses in the following ways:

1. We will apply the techniques of literary analysis to each of the selections we read.

2. We will look at the works as examples of the creative process, and we will examine some depictions of creativity within the works.

3. When works address questions of ethical values and choices, we will consider the questions the authors or characters raise.

4. We will look at the past, present, and future implications of the study of a body of literary works in an analytical mode.

5. We will consider these works from different critical and perhaps philosophical perspectives, such as contextual, psychoanalytical, and feminist.

6. You will locate and use the online library catalog, computerized indexes, and web sources for two papers, with documentation according to the parenthetical MLA form.

7. In addition to two papers that involve correct and effective use of secondary sources, the midterm and final essay exams will require you to articulate information and ideas in your own words.

8. We will look at common elements and connections between disciplines of literature, history, philosophy, biography/autobiography, art, music, psychology, sociology, and the natural sciences in order to enhance our understanding of the works we are reading and the cultural heritage they represent.

9. We will consider ways in which reading and writing about literature and the culture and values it represents are important to the life of an educated citizen.

Reading Schedule

As with all syllabi, this schedule is tentative and students are expected to keep up with any changes. I will also post an updated schedule on the website when and if necessary.

Jan. 15W: Introduction to Course

17F: Film: Remember The Titans and Twain, Mark, The Adv. of Huck Finn, 13-58

20M: No Class—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

22W: Film: Remember The Titans and Twain, 59-116

24F: Twain, 117-165

27M: Twain, 166-206

29W: Twain, 207-252

31F: Twain, 253-end

Feb. 03M: Hemingway, The Nick Adams Stories, selections TBA

05W: Hemingway, selections TBA

07F: Lee, Harper, To Kill A Mockingbird, 3-57

10M: Lee, 57-99

12W: Lee, 99-144, Film: To Kill a Mockingbird

14F: Lee, 144-189, Film: To Kill a Mockingbird

17M: Lee, 189-227

19W: Lee, 227-end

21F: Hourly Test #1

24M: Salinger, J.D., The Catcher in the Rye, 1-52

26W: Salinger, 53-104

28F: Salinger, 105-157 Paper #1 Due 


10M: Salinger, 157-end

12W: Film: October Sky,

14F:  Film: October Sky, 

17M:  Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye, Preface to 58

19W: Morrison, 59-93

21F:  Morrison, 94-163

24M: Morrison, 164-end

26W: Alexie, Sherman.  Flight, 1-42

28F: Alexie, 43-87

31M: Alexie, 88-138

Apr. 02W: Alexie, 139-end

04F:  Hourly Test #2

07M: American Poetry selections, on web

09W: American Poetry selections, on web

11F: American Poetry selections, on web Paper #2 Due

14M: MT Anderson, Feed, 1-75       

16W: Anderson, 75-150

18F: Anderson, 150-223

21M: Anderson, 224-end

23W: Cisneros, 1-55

25F: Cisneros, 55-end and Review for Final Exam

Final Exam: 

Course Requirements:

Two Tests:  100 pts. each
Two longer analytical essays: 100 pts. each
Participation, In class writing, quizzes: 150 pts.
Final Exam: 100 pts.
Total: 650 Pts.


Scale:*A=90-100% *B=80-89% *C=70-79% *D=60-69% 
A=   598-650
A-=  585-597
B+= 565-584
B=   533-564
B-=  520-532
C+= 500-519
C=   468-499
C-=  455-467
D+= 436-454
D=   403-435
D-=  390-402

Note: Because class will often revolve around class discussion, small group discussion, in-class writing activities, etc., attendance and participation will play an important factor in the grading for the course.. Several reading quizzes may be given and these play a significant part in your final grade. So come to class prepared to participate fully!  

Attendance Policy:

The attendance policy for this course is the same as the university policy in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook. Thus if you miss four or more times your grade may be reduced. Tardies become absences five minutes into class. No quizzes will be given out to those who come late.

Honor Code:

Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating. You are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. All ideas taken from sources, whether in texts or online, must be cited. Remember that your instructor also has access to these materials and they are easy to track on-line. Any student caught plagiarizing will automatically fail the course and his/her name will be forwarded to the Judicial Board.

Class Discussion:

Students are expected to make regular and significant contributions to class discussion each day. Your grade in this regard will be based upon both daily contributions during the semester and taking the lead in guiding class discussion for at least one class.

Class Participation Grading Scale:


Student is well prepared and enthusiastically participates in all class activities; is very considerate and cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions; demonstrates knowledge of course materials; consistently practices critical thinking; actively helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally prepared and willing to participate in class activities; is relatively cooperative with the rest of the class; asks questions and responds to questions most of the time; makes an inconsistent effort to refer to readings and course topics; generally practices critical thinking; helps to create a vibrant learning community.


Student is often unprepared and reluctantly or sporadically participates in class activities; often does not ask questions or respond to questions; rarely makes an effort to demonstrate knowledge of course materials; rarely practices critical thinking; does not show much interest in creating a vibrant learning community.


Student is generally unprepared, unwilling to participate in class activities and unable to answer questions; does not formulate questions or responses; demonstrates little understanding of course materials; does not practice critical thinking; distracts from the creation of a vibrant learning community.


Student is absent (physically or mentally), unprepared, inattentive, uncooperative or disruptive in class.

Paper Policy:

All papers are due on the date assigned at the beginning of class. Late papers will not be accepted. No exceptions.

Classroom Rules:

Please do not leave the classroom unless you have a real emergency.  If you leave, please do not disrupt class a second time by returning.

Office Hours:

My office hours are posted and I will be available during these times. If you need to see me and these times are not convenient, please feel free to schedule a conference for some other mutually agreeable time.

Inclement Weather:

In the event of classes being cancelled due to inclement weather, students are expected to keep up with the reading.