English 3416 -- American Literature

Instructor: Alan Bourassa
Time: WF 9:00 - 10:20
Office Hours: MW 12:30-1:30, WF 10:30-11:30 and by appointment (Office ECH 121 )
Tel: 474-1882
e-mail: bourasa1@nb.sympatico. ca

Passionate desires that explode and passionate desires that are restrained, wild obsession with the past and history, fantasies that hold lives together, the uncanny that explodes within the familiar, the fascination of the good with the evil and the evil with the good: just some of the stories of American Literature. In this course we will see a variety of American literature - poetry, drama, short stories and novels from two centuries. We will talk about history, memory, sexuality, social rules, obsession, racial violence, redemption, comedy, good and evil. By the end of the course we will be able to form our own conclusions about what makes American literature special. Does it really have a common theme? Is it characterized by its variety? At the end of this course I will ask you what conclusions you have come to about American literature. I trust that you will have some interesting answers.

Reading List

FALL 2004

The Color Purple Alice Walker
Franny and Zooey J.D. Salinger
The Bear (available in: Big Woods: The Hunting Stories of William Faulkner) William Faulkner
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Edward Albee
Six Great American Poets : Poems by Poe, Dickinson, Whitman, Longfellow, Frost and Millay (Dover Thrift Editions) (used for both semesters)
Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor


Rappaccini's Daughter Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
Billy Budd and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) Herman Melville

Fall 2004

WEEK 1 Sept. 9-10
WEEK 2 Sept. 13-17 Poetry -- Frost
WEEK 3 Sept 20-24 The Color Purple Alice Walker
WEEK 4 Sept. 27-Oct. 1 The Color Purple Alice Walker
WEEK 5 Oct. 4-8 Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor
WEEK 6 Oct. 11-15 Franny and Zooey J.D. Salinger
Oct 11 - No Classes Thanksgiving
First Paper Due
WEEK 7 Oct. 18-22 Franny and Zooey J.D. Salinger
WEEK 8 Oct. 25-29 The Bear
WEEK 9 Nov. 1-5 The Bear
WEEK 10 Nov. 8-12 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Edward Albee
Nov. 11 - No Classes Remembrance Day
WEEK 11 Nov. 15-19 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Edward Albee
WEEK 12 Nov. 22-26 Poetry - Millay
Second Paper Due
WEEK 13 Nov. 29-Dec. 3

Winter 2005
WEEK 1 Jan. 3-7 Introduction
WEEK 2 Jan. 10-14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
WEEK 3 Jan. 17-21 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
WEEK 4 Jan. 24-28 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
WEEK 5 Jan. 31-Feb. 4 Poetry -- Whitman
Feb 4 Chancellor's Day. No classes.
WEEK 6 Feb. 7-11 Rappaccini's Daughter Nathaniel Hawthorne
WEEK 7 Feb. 14-18 Rappaccini's Daughter Nathaniel Hawthorne
WEEK 8 Feb. 21-25 Billy Budd Herman Melville
WEEK 9 Feb. 28-March 4 Uncle Tom's Cabin -- Stowe
Final Research Paper Due
WEEK 10 March 7-11 Mid-Term Break No Classes
WEEK 11 March 14-18 Uncle Tom's Cabin -- Stowe
WEEK 12 March 21-25 Uncle Tom's Cabin -- Stowe
March 25 - No Classes Good Friday
WEEK 13 March 28-April 1 Poetry -- Dickinson
March 28 - No Classes Easter Monday
WEEK 14 April 4-8 Review

Assignments and Evaluation

Your participation grade will include not only attendance and participation in class, but also in class assignments and participation in group work.

The papers are due at the beginning of class on the dates specified (always the FIRST class of the week in which the paper is due. If the first class is a Monday, the paper will be due Monday. If there is a holiday then it would be due the first class of the week e.g. Wednesday). Late papers will be marked down one grade per day (i.e. one day late brings a B+ down to a B). If you have to hand a paper in late you must tell me BEFORE the paper is due and we can negotiate. There are certain good reasons for not handing in a paper: family problems, illness, going out of town for school. There are certain reasons that won't fly: hangovers, assignments for other classes, fatigue, just feeling like it. Just be reasonable about handing in your assignments and I will be reasonable if something unforeseen comes up.

You will be allowed four unexcused absences during the semester. After that your final grade will be dropped one mark per extra absence (so three extra unexcused absences drops you from B to C). Again, an unforeseen crisis will excuse the absence. But if you miss several classes, even with a legitimate reason, it will certainly reflect on your work and therefore your grade.

Important Note: Always keep extra copies of your papers, on floppy disk, and make an extra hard copy of each assignment. I will be dealing with hundreds of assignments this semester. One or two are bound to get misplaced, so don't put yourself in an awkward position. Always have a backup.

The Secret to the Participation Grade: 20% of your total grade is for participation. This 20% is, in effect, a gift. It is very easy to get an A in participation: just participate. Speak in every class. Make me remember you. If you participate a lot, I will remember. If, at the end of the semester, when I am giving you your participation grade, I remember that you spoke in almost every class, and that you did in-class assignments enthusiastically, you will be on your way to a strong grade in participation. If I remember you speaking a fair amount, you will get a B-range grade. If you just sat quietly -- even if you showed up for all the classes -- I would give a C or lower. Just talk, ask questions, make comments, give an opinion, argue, come for extra help and you will get a good grade in participation. Simple as that. Take advantage of the boost this policy can give to your grade.


Fall 2004
Quiz 1 2.5%
Quiz 2 2.5%
Quiz 3 2.5%
Quiz 4 2.5%
Paper 1 10%
Paper 2 20%
Participation 10%

Winter 2004
Quiz 1 2.5%
Quiz 2 2.5%
Quiz 3 2.5%
Quiz4 2.5%
Paper 3 (Research paper) 30%
Participation 10%