English 168: The American Novel

Professor Noelle Williams Class: W 7-9:45 PM. SH 240

Office: FO 110 Office Hours Friday 1:30-3 & by appt.

Phone: 924-4439 Email: awilli@email.sjsu.edu

Website: http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/awilliams/

Course Description
Course Objectives
Grading and Late Paper Policy
Required Texts
Course Schedule

This course examines a sampling of American novels from the last two centuries. Instruction will focus on the genre of the novel as well as the individual works assigned. Some of the thematic questions that we will tackle include the way that personal and national identities are shaped or defined in the fictional texts.

Course Objectives:

1. To gain an awareness of the way the novel has been classified and (re)defined in literary history.

2. To explore the specific thematic and generic innovations that Americans have made in the form of the novel.

3. To strengthen our abilities to engage literary text and to analyze both its form and content as well as its social and historical contexts.

Assignments and Grading Policy:

Coursework includes reading assignments (see schedule below); two five to six-page formal literary analyses/research papers; and a final exam composed of both essay and identification questions. Your attendance and participation in class will also affect your grade as in-class quizzes or other weekly written assignments will comprise 10% of your course grade and you must be present in class (and have completed the reading for the day) to complete each one.
Paper One 5-6 page analysis w/ research 30%
Paper Two 5-6 page analysis w/ research 30%
Final Exam essay and I.D.ís 25%
In-class quizzes/assignments 15 (some take-home) 15% 
Total   100%

The following statement has been adopted by the English department for inclusion in all greensheets:

In English Department Courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs.

The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the SJSU Catalog ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A = excellent; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = failure. Courses graded according to the A,, B, C, No Credit system shall follow the same pattern, except that NC (No Credit) shall replace D or F. In such classes, NC shall also substitute for W (Withdrawal) because neither grade (NC or W) affects students' GPA.

In written assignments for English 168, this scale is based on the following criteria: A [90-92=A-, 93-96=A, 97-100=A+] = Excellent: The "A" essay is articulate and well developed with fluid transitions and a clear and persuasive use of evidence, which is drawn from the literary text itself, lecture materials (when appropriate), and research materials. An "A" essay contains a fresh insight which teaches the reader something new about the subject matter.

B [80-82=B-, 83-86=B, 87-89=B+] Above average: The "B" essay demonstrates a good understanding of its subject, a clear and persuasive use of evidence, a certain level of ease of expression, and solid organization. However, it usually lacks the level of originality and creativity that characterizes the insight found in an "A" essay.

C [70-72=C-, 73-76=C, 77-79=C+] = Average: The "C" essay makes a good attempt at all the assignment's requirements. It has a reasonable understanding of its subject matter but its ideas are frequently simplistic or over-generalized. The writing style is also more bland and repetitive than the style shown by "A" and "B" essays and it often contains flaws in grammar, punctuation, spelling and/or word choice. It may also use textual evidence out of context.

D [60-62=D-, 63-66=D, 67-69=D+] = Below average: The "D" essay is poorly organized and generally unclear. It has inappropriate or inadequate examples, is noticeably superficial or simplistic, and/or contains some serious mechanical and grammatical problems. A "D" essay may also reveal some misunderstanding of the assignment requirements.

F = Failure: An "F" essay has not addressed the requirements of the assignment and is unacceptable work in terms of both form and content.

The misrepresentation of another's work as one's own, whether the original work is published or not, is plagiarism and will result in a failing grade. The incident will also be reported to the dean of students for possible further action. All quotes must be enclosed in quotation marks or, when more than three lines, put in an indented block like the quote above. Full citation of the original author and source must also be included.Your final requirement in the course is to be courteous and professional to both classmates and the professor. I realize that most people take this as a requirement in their daily lives and this statement does not need to be reiterated here. However, people sometimes forget that the classroom is a professional setting and rules that govern a business meeting in a corporation, apply here. For example, devices such as cell phones and pagers need to be turned off; coming to class late is unacceptable.

Seven Required Texts

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (1850) [Norton Critical preferred]

Herman Melville, Billy Budd (written 1885-91/pub. 1924) [Penguin]

Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920) [Scribner's]

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)  [Scribner's]

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936) [Vintage]

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey: his Fake Book (1987) [Vintage]


Week One
January 24,W: Introduction: Defining our canon; Defining the novel as a genre

Week Two
January 31, W: Scarlet Letter

Week Three
February 7, W: Scarlet Letter

Week Four
February 14, W: Billy Budd

Week Five:
February 21, W: The Age of Innocence (Book I)

Week Six:
February 28, W: The Age of Innocence (Book II)

Week Seven:
March 7, W: Paper 1 Due. The Great Gatsby

Week Eight:
March 14, W: Absalom, Absalom! (chapters 1-5)

Week Nine:
March 21, W: Absalom, Absalom! (chapters 6-9)

Spring Break: March 24-April 1

Week Ten:
April 4, W: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (to page 195/end of chapter 9)

Week Eleven:
April 11, W: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (to page 382/through chapter 17)

Week Twelve:
April 18, W: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Week Thirteen:
April 25, W: Tripmaster Monkey (to 164)

Week Fourteen:
May 2, W: Tripmaster Monkey

Week Fifteen:
May 9, W: Paper 2 Due.  Review for Final Exam

Final Exam: Wednesday May 23, 7:45-10 PM