Thursday, August 14, 2014

American Literature: A Collaborative Journey into the 21st Century

The following is a working syllabus for a new course that I am teaching this year. 
I am still tinkering with how to use Canvas, but I am excited about the possibilities.
Here's the course vision for now....

 American Literature
A Collaborative Journey into the 21st Century
Form V: 2014-2015
Mr. O’Brien


Having taught this course for ten years, I’ve always struggled with what content to include (and wrestled with whom to cut). American Literature courses typically cover a chronological sampling – the tip of the iceberg - without any appreciation to the depth and scope of American writers that exist below the syllabus surface.

It is the diversity of American voices that makes this literature great (and there’s danger to a single story). So why limit our experience to a dozen writers over the next nine months?

I invite you to an engaging approach to American Literature where you will take ownership of your learning through research and presentations that you share with your classmates via conversations and blog posts. Rather than a map, you will be given a compass; like cartographers you will explore the American landscape of past and present; then, record and present your findings. Together, we will create this course. 

Since technology and the Internet offer new possibilities, we can rethink the traditional classroom experience and transform your learning, by mirroring courses that you will take in college and beyond. Your future requires 21st century skills. Perhaps, the greatest pitfall to your education (and career) may be plagiarism; you will learn how to site sources in a digital world. Collectively, our success in this course will be dependent on each student’s contribution.

With greater student autonomy, I hope to foster intellectual curiosity and deeper connections as students curate content in a collaborative learning environment. I want us to change the game that we call education – as we learn how to learn in the 21st century.

I look forward to our journey together!

You will research and present from FIVE general periods:
1)    New World - Early America
2)    Pre-Civil War
3)    Civil War and the Aftermath
4)    The Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance
5)    20th Century American Poets & (Short Story) Writers (two presentations)

You will also participate in a number of “Conversations” that will require you to research and read an array of material curated in Bedford St. Martin’s Conversations in American Literature (Aufses, Shea, Scanlon, Aufses).

Methodology, Mindset, Motivation:
Ø  Student Autonomy
Ø  Intellectual Curiosity
Ø  Agility of Mind
Ø  Mastery of Curated Content
Ø  Purpose: Collaborative Learning
Ø  Deeper Connections (Breadth and Depth)

Topics: American archetypes, myths, stereotypes, challenges
Themes: Rebellion, Rights, Religion, Race, Roles
Big questions: What is American Literature? What challenges does America face?

Old School meets 21st Century: Paper and Pixels
Balance between common experience of major works with research projects where you will work independently as well as collaboratively.
You will write daily in this course, by hand as well as digitally.
You will keep a traditional Journal, emphasizing penmanship and visual note-taking.
For the most part, your journal is for your eyes only, so you may think in writing, but for some assignments, you will be asked to share (you’ll be given notice).

"Sometimes you have to write to figure it out."
These 9 words from Northwestern University Professor Charlie Yarnoff to
Daniel Pink in "Writing the Essay" changed his life.

Meanwhile, on your blog, you will post your presentations, essays, images, and other content. Through sharing your writing with classmates (and potentially the world), you will write for a greater audience than my eyes. By leveraging positive peer pressure, I believe that you will publish writing that gives you a true sense of purpose: to persuade (and impress) your classmates. With this motivation, your writing will improve as you find your voice, receive feedback, and work towards mastery.

In addition to frequent writing assignments, there will be regular reading and vocabulary quizzes plus journal checks.
You will create your own tests for each unit and presentation period.
You will post quotes and questions to Canvas/Google Moderator.
You will meet in Google Hangouts (Air – recorded) for presentations.

Your willingness to give and receive feedback is vital to learning in this course.
Be mindful. Be respectful.

To set the stage for the year:
Ø  Introductions: Who are you? What’s your story?
Ø  An example in self-guided learning: “Who was Pocahontas?”
Ø  Read aloud “The First Day” by Edward Jones

Set up digital platforms:
Ø  Canvas – Learning Management System (LMS)
Ø  Google Suite including Gmail, Moderator,
Ø  Google+, and you own Google Blog.
Ø  New Twitter Handle (professional or pseudonym)
Ø  MOOC: Enroll in ModPo @Coursera (optional participation)

Class Discussions:
Daniel Pink’s Drive
“Let Teenagers Try Adulthood” by Leon Botstein

Online Conversation: “Education: The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time?”
“The Problem We All Live With” by Norman Rockwell (painting)

I. The New World: Early America
1st Presentation (September): Who was…? What was…? What were…?
         You will become the resident expert: Master your content.
Typical routine: Day 1 - Preview on blogs,
Next day - Group presentations and feedback,
3rd day - Discussions and study guides, Day 4 - Test
Random lottery pick – research one of the following:
Present on your blog – you may trade once. (no duplicates in the other section)

1.     Native American Stories
2.     Iroquois Confederacy
3.     Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
4.     Pilgrims Progress
5.     Witchcraft in Salem, MA
6.     Richard Frethorne
7.     Anne Bradstreet
8.     Edward Taylor
9.     Mary Rowlandson
10.   Cotton Mather
11.   John Hale
12.   John Winthrop
13.   Jonathan Edwards
14.   Christopher Columbus
15.   Patrick Henry
16.   Thomas Paine
17.   Thomas Jefferson
18.   George Washington
19.   Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
20.   The Federalist Papers
21.   Francis Scott Key
22.   William Cullen Bryant
23.   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
24.    James Fenimore Coope

Lecture: Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography and Poor Richard’s Almanac
How do we create a personal narrative (and self-improvement plans)?
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People

Lecture: The American short story: How has it changed and why?
Class Discussions:
Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”
 (On going question into the spring)
Edgar Allen Poe’s “Single Effect”
Pick a Poe Short Story – In Class Write
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener”
Hillis Miller, “A Deconstructive Reading Melville’s ‘Bartleby, The Scrivener’”

Lecture: Ekphrastic Poetry: George Washington and Frank O’Hara
What is role of art as text in American Literature?
What is role of poetry in American Culture?
Inspired Larry Rivers

II. Pre-Civil War: 2nd Presentation (October):
Transcendentalists, Abolitionists, Native Americans, & Slave Narratives
Pick One:
(no duplicates in the other section)

1.     Margaret Fuller
2.     John Greenleaf Whittier
3.     Sojourner Truth
4.     Frederic Douglas “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” 
6.      Harriet Jacobs
7.     John Hall, “The Indian Hater”
8.     Catherine Maria Sedgwick, “Cacoethes Scribendi”
9.     Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, “The Dance”
10.   Lydia Maria Child, “Slavery’s Pleasant Homes”
11.   Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, “The Angel over the Right Shoulder”
12.   Harriet Prescott Spofford, “Circumstance”
13.   Chief Seattle
14.   Red Cloud
15.   Alexis de Tocqueville
16.    Elizabeth Peabody
17.    Louisa May Alcott
18.    John Muir
19.   Thomas Bangs Thorpe, “The Big Bear of Arkansas”
20.   Your choice – teacher’s approval required

Nathaniel Hawthorne: 
Short story “Young Goodman Brown”
            “The Prison Door” and “The Market Place” from The Scarlet Letter (First two chapters)

Conversation: Religious Tolerance in America

Lecture: Emerson and Thoreau
 Class Discussions:
            What is the legacy of the Transcendentalists?
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”
Read/Research: “American Scholar” “Nature” “The Poet”

Conversation: Henry David Thoreau’s Legacy

Lecture: Race in America from Phillis Wheatley to Ferguson, MO
How does race define America? What defines you?

Conversation: Phillis Wheatley’s Legacy
Conversation: John Brown

III. Civil War and Aftermath:
Major Work: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Context on Huck and Biography on Mark Twian (Video)

Class Discussions:
Whitman and Dickinson (visit Coursera’s ModPo)
Select a favorite poem of each – post to your blog.
Whitman - read sections 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 47 & 52 of "Song of Myself"
Dickinson - “I dwell in Possibility” “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”
and “The Brain within its Groove”
We will share these daily while reading Huck

Thomas Nast’s “Worse than Slavery” (Political cartoon)

Conversation: Abraham Lincoln

3rd Presentation (November): Civil War and Aftermath
Pick one:
(no duplicates in the other section)

1.     Kate Chopin “The Story of An Hour”
2.     Bret Harte, “The Luck of Roaring Camp”
3.     Sarah Orne Jewett “White Heron”
4.     Mary Wilkins Freeman, “The Revolt of ‘Mother’”
5.     Stephen Crane “The Open Boat” or “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”
6.     Andrew Carnegie from Gospel of Wealth
7.     Jacob Riis “The Mixed Crowd”
8.     Jane Addams from The Subtle Problem of Charity
9.     Upton Sinclair from The Jungle
10.   Katharine Lee Bates
11.   Ambrose Bierce “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
12.   Ida B. Wells-Barnett from Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases
13.   Booker T. Washington
14.   Paul Laurence Dunbar
15.   W.E.B. DuBois
16.   James Weldon Johnson
17.   Charles S. Johnson
18.   Alain Locke
19.   E.A. Robinson
20.   Theodore Roosevelt “The Strenuous Life”
21.   Zitkala-Sa from The School Days of an Indian Girl or “The Trial Path”
22.   Charles W. Chestnut, “The Wife of His Youth”
23.   George Washington Cable, “Belles Demoiselles Plantation”
24.   Constance Fenimore Woolson, “Rodman the Keeper”
25.   Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
26.   Alison Dunbar-Nelson, “Tony’s Wife”

IV. The Jazz Age (Roaring Twenties) & Harlem Renaissance
(December – February)
Guest Lecture by Jazz teacher Ryan Dankanich
Class Discussions:
What was the Harlem Renaissance? Why Harlem? Why 1919-1939?
What is the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance?
What role did Jazz/Art/Literature play in the Harlem Renaissance?
Recommended listening
Claude McKay,“If We Must Die” (1919)
Langston Hughes, “Jazzonia” (1923) “Harlem” (1951)
                        William H. Johnson, Jitterbugs
Stuart Davis, Swing Landscape
Writing :
Ralph Ellison, excerpt from Invisible Man
Robert O’Malley, excerpt Seeing Jazz
Gerald Early, excerpt Jazz and the African American Literary Tradition

4th Harlem Renaissance Presentations (February):
Biography List From Wikipedia:
Recommend selecting a name in BOLD
(Italics = will be covered in class or other unit)

·       Josephine Baker
·       The Nicholas Brothers

Leading intellectuals
·       Cyril Briggs
·       Marion Vera Cuthbert
·       W. E. B. Du Bois
·       Marcus Garvey
·       L.S. Alexander Gumby, Archivist and salon host
·       Hubert Harrison
·       Leslie Pinckney Hill
·       Langston Hughes
·       James Weldon Johnson
·       Charles Spurgeon Johnson
·       Alain Locke
·       Mary White Ovington
·       Chandler Owen
·       A. Philip Randolph
·       Joel Augustus Rogers
·       Arthur Schomburg
·       Carl Van Vechten
·       Walter Francis White

·       James Baldwin
·       Countee Cullen
·       Langston Hughes
·       Zora Neale Hurston
·       Nella Larsen

·       Gwendolyn Bennett
·       Arna Bontemps
·       Sterling A. Brown
·       Mae V. Cowdery
·       Countee Cullen –The Black Christ and Other Poems(1929)
·       Clarissa Scott Delany
·       Alice Dunbar-Nelson
·       Jessie Redmon Fauset
·       Angelina Weld Grimke
·       Robert Hayden
·       Langston Hughes
·       Georgia Douglas Johnson
·       Helene Johnson
·       James Weldon Johnson – God's Trombones
·       Claude McKay
·       May Miller
·       Effie Lee Newsome
·       Richard Bruce Nugent
·       Anne Spencer
·       Jean Toomer
·       Lucy Ariel Williams

·       Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr., author of the play, On the Fields of France.
·       Charles Gilpin, actor
·       Angelina Weld Grimke, author of the drama, Rachel
·       Langston Hughes, Mulatto, produced on Broadway. Hughes also helped to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater
·       Zora Neale Hurston, author of the play Color Struck
·       Georgia Douglas Johnson, author of the play, Plumes, A Tragedy.
·       Richard Bruce Nugent, author of the play, Sahdji, an African Ballet
·       Paul Robeson, actor
·       Eulalie Spence, author of the play, Undertow
·       Krigwa Players, popular Harlem theatre group.
·       Thomas Montgomery Gregory, supporter of Negro Theatre Movement.

·       Arna Bontemps — God Sends Sunday (1931), Black Thunder (1936)
·       Countee Cullen — One Way to Heaven (1932)
·       Jessie Redmon Fauset — There is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun(1928), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), Comedy, American Style(1933)
·       Rudolph Fisher — The Walls of Jericho (1928), The Conjure-Man Dies (1932)
·       Langston Hughes — Not Without Laughter (1930)
·       Zora Neale Hurston — Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
·       Nella Larsen — Quicksand (1928), Passing (1929)
·       Claude McKay — Home to Harlem (1927), Banjo (1929), Gingertown(1931), Banana Bottom (1933)
·       George Schuyler — Black No More (1931), Slaves Today (1931)
·       Wallace Thurman — The Blacker the Berry (1929), Infants of the Spring (1932), Interne (1932)
·       Jean Toomer — Cane (1923)
·       Carl Van Vechten — Nigger Heaven (1926)
·       Walter White — The Fire in the Flint (1924), Flight (1926)

Short story collections
·       Eric Walrond — Tropic Death (1926)

Musicians and composers
·       Marian Anderson
·       Louis Armstrong
·       Ivie Anderson
·       Count Basie
·       Gladys Bentley
·       Eubie Blake
·       Lucille Bogan
·       Cab Calloway
·       The King Cole Trio
·       The Chocolate Dandies
·       Duke Ellington
·       Ella Fitzgerald
·       Dizzy Gillespie
·       Adelaide Hall
·       Roland Hayes
·       Fletcher Henderson
·       Earl "Fatha" Hines
·       Billie Holiday
·       Lena Horne
·       James P. Johnson
·       Lonnie Johnson
·       Moms Mabley
·       Pigmeat Markham
·       The Will Mastin Trio
·       Nina Mae McKinney
·       Florence Mills
·       Thelonious Monk
·       Mantan Moreland
·       Jelly Roll Morton
·       Ma Rainey
·       Nora Douglas Holt Ray
·       Cecil Scott
·       Noble Sissle
·       Bessie Smith
·       Mamie Smith
·       Victoria Spivey
·       William Still
·       Billy Strayhorn
·       Fats Waller
·       Ethel Waters
·       Chick Webb
·       Bert Williams
·       Fess Williams

Visual artists
·       Charles Alston
·       Henry Bannarn
·       Romare Bearden
·       Leslie Bolling, Wood carvings
·       Beauford Delaney
·       Aaron Douglas
·       Palmer Hayden
·       Sargent Johnson
·       William H. Johnson, Painter
·       Lois Mailou Jones
·       Jacob Lawrence
·       Norman Lewis, Artist
·       Archibald Motley
·       Augusta Savage
·       Prentiss Taylor

Major Work: Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Read (mostly) in class (December)
FSF Biography Winter Dreams (Video)

Major Work: Hurston’s Eyes Were Watching God
(January - February)

Conversation: Changing Roles of Women

V. 20th Century American Poets and (Short Story) Writers:
5th & 6th Presentations: Short Stories (March) and Poetry (April)
          Select one of each – no duplicates in the two sections.
Blog posts for both poet and writer.

American (Short Story) Writers:
Inspired by Anne Charters, The American Short Story and Its Writer

1.     O. Henry
2.     Willa Cather
3.     Edith Wharton
4.     Jack London
5.     Sui San Far
6.     Sherwood Anderson
7.     Theodore Dreiser
8.     Katherine Anne Porter
9.     Dorothy Parker
10.   William Faulkner
11.   John Steinbeck
12.   Pearl S. Buck
13.   James Thurber
14.   John Cheever
15.   Shirley Jackson
16.   Tillie Olsen
17.   Philip Roth
18.   Flannery O’Connor
19.   Eudora Welty
20.   James Baldwin
21.   John Barth
22.   Joyce Carol Oates
23.   Grace Paley
24.   Raymond Carver
25.   Leslie Marmon Silko
26.   Bobbie Ann Mason
27.   Ursula K. LeGuin
28.   John Edgar Wideman
29.   Sherman Alexie
30.   Annie Proulx
31.   Edwidge Danticat
32.   Helena Maria Viramontes
33.   Lan Samantha Chang
34.   Kurt Vonnegut

American Modern and Contemporary Poets:
Inspired by Al Filries and his Coursera course ModPo

1.     Lorine Niedecker
2.     Cid Corman
3.     Rae Armantrout
4.     H.D.
5.     Ezra Pound
6.     Wallace Stevens
7.     Gertrude Stein
8.     Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven
9.     Tristan Tzara
10.   Genevieve Taggard
11.   William Carlos Williams
12.   Richard Wilbur
13.   Gwendolyn Brooks
14.   Amiri Baraka
15.   Allen Ginsberg
16.   Jack Kerouac
17.   Anne Waldman
18.   Bill Berkson
19.   John Ashbery
20.   Kenneth Koch
21.   Barbara Guest
22.   Frank O'Hara
23.   Ted Berrigan
24.   Bernadette Mayer
25.   Bob Perelman

Ernest Hemingway:
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
“Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”
“Soldier's Home”
Biography (Video)

Robert Frost: “Mending Wall”
Select a favorite Frost poem
Post to blog

Tim O'Brien and Phil Klay: America and War  
Focus: “On the Rainy River” from The Things They Carried
Phil Klay: Redeployment

College Essay: Who are you? What’s your story?

Final Presentations: Post to your blogs (May)
Pick a Conversation below to present with a partner:
Ø  Immigration: The Lure of America
Ø  The American Cowboy
Ø  Japanese Internment and Reparations: Making It Right?
Ø  The Atomic Age
Ø  The American Middle Class
Ø  America’s Romance with the Automobile
Ø  Create a Conversation – teacher approval required

Final Conversation: What is American Literature?
Parini’s Thirteen Books that Changed America
Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco – the Camden Chapter
from Days of Destruction Days of Revolt

Final Lecture: America: Decline & Fall or Renewal & Reinvention?
What challenges does America face?
How will America face (and embrace) these challenges?
How will American Literature make a difference?
What is the future for America(n Literature)?

Last Week: Exam Review
Connections between Major Works

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