Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG364Y1Y L0101

ENG364Y1Y   L0101   MWF12
Twentieth Century American Literature
Instructor:  Dr. M. Boughn

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room TBA

Brief Description of Course: We will read through a selection of American texts that address the problem of the radical decentering of meaning in the 20th century. As modernity reached its historical climax, one manifestation of the legacy of its inner contradictions was the traumatic crisis of signification (the end of representation) that shook all the arts, and that a certain line of 20th century writers took up as the central cultural problem of the age. We will look at the way this crisis plays itself out, with a special emphasis on those writers who take up the crisis as an opportunity to rethink the foundations of modernity.

Required Reading: Writers in bold will be available in online packages. We will be reading a lot of poetry.

1) Gertrude Stein Tender Buttons
2). T.S Eliot, The Wasteland
3) William Carlos Williams, Spring and All
4) Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay (poems)
5) Ezra Pound, Selected Cantos
6) H.D. Sea Garden
7) Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
8) Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
9) Richard Wright, Native Son
11) Jean Toomer, Cane
12) Louis Zukofsky (poems)
13) Lorine Niedecker (poems)
14) William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
15) Charles Olson, “The Kingfishers”
16) Jack Spicer, Language
17) Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
18) Robert Duncan, “Poem Beginning with a Line from Pindar”
19) Denise Levertov, poems
20) Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America
21) Robert Creeley, poems
22) Allen Ginsberg, Howl
23) Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
24) Frank O’Hara, poems
25) John Ashbery, poems
26) Ted Berrigan, poems
27) Diane Williams, Romancer Erector
28) Susan Howe
29) Bernadette Mayer, poems

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA.

Method of Evaluation:
Short essay (3-4 pp.) 15%
Term test 20%
Essay (long essay 6-8 pp.) 30%
Term test 20%
Participation: 15%

The tests will consist of a 700-800 word in class essay. Essays (including the tests) will be marked based on your ability to articulate a clear, limited, focused thesis, and to develop that thesis in a unified and coherent manner.

The participation mark will be assigned based on: 1) physical presence in the classroom (you can’t participate if you’re not there); 2) contribution to class discussions; 3) contribution to the Discussion Board on Blackboard. If you just come and sit silently in the classroom, you will get 60%. The mark will go up from there based on oral and written contributions.

Please familiarize yourselves with the university policy on plagiarism. Plagiarism is an extremely serious academic offense that can result in penalties including loss of a single mark, the entire course mark, or even expulsion from the University. Guidelines for how NOT to plagiarism can be found here:

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