American Literature: From Modernism to Postmodernism

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American Literature: from Modernism to Postmodernism is a compulsory survey course at the BA level. This is the second course in American literature at the Department of English and American Studies and builds up on the material covered in the course American Literature: from Romanticism to Realism, also a compulsory course for BA students.
The course focuses on the major literary movements of the 20th century and their representatives by analyzing a number of canonical texts in prose, drama and poetry.
AMERICAN LITERATURE: from Modernism to Postmodernism
One semester survey course – BA, 8th semester
6 ETCS (4+2) 30 lectures + 30 seminars (2+2)
Lecturers: Prof. Madeleine Danova, Dr. Alexandra Glavanakova, Dr. Veselin Budakov

I. THE POST-WWI PERIOD (1919-1945)

1. “The Lost Generation”: Ernest Hemingway; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein.
2. Modernist Poetry: T. S. Elliot, Ezra Pound, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, H. D. [Hilda Doolittle].
3. Harlem Renaissance: Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston.
4. The Beginnings of American Drama: Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell.
5. Southern Renaissance: William Faulkner, Eudora Welty.
6. Literature of the 30s: Michael Gold, John Steinbeck, Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman.
II. THE POST-WW II PERIOD (1945 – to the present)

1. The Development of American Drama: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee.
2. The Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs.
3. African American Literature: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry.
4. Race and Ethnicity in Literature: Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, N. Scott Momaday.
5. The Postmodernist Novel: John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut.
6. Contemporary American Drama: Sam Shepard, August Wilson, Marsha Norman, David Mamet.

1. Bercovitch, Sacvan. Gen.ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature, 1995
2. Elliot, Emory, general ed. Columbia Literary History of the United States, 1988
3. Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. American Literature: The Makers and the Making, 1973
4. Spiller, Robert. A Literary History of the United States
5. Berkovitch, Sacvan, ed. Reconstructing American Literary History, 1986
6. Hutner, Gordon, ed. The American Literary History, Reader, 1995

1. Horton, Rod. Backgrounds of American Literary Thought
2. Wilson, Edmond. The Shock of Recognition
3. Parrington, Vernon L. Main Currents in American Thought (3 vol.)
4. Goldman, Arnold. American Literature in Context
1. Chase, Richard. The American Novel and its Tradition
2. Sundquist, Eric. American Realism: New Essays
3. Bell, Michael Davitt. The Problem of American Realism, 1996
4. Walcutt, Cl. Naturalism: A Stream Divided
5. James, Henry. The Art of Fiction
6. Bell, Bernard. The Afro-American Novel and its Tradition
7. Tanner, Tony. City of Words: American Fiction 1950-1970
8. Olderman, Raymond. Beyond the Wasteland: The American Novel in the 60s
9. Bigsby, C.W.E. An Introduction to 20th c. American Drama (3 vol.)
10. Essays in American Studies, ed. by K. Slavova, M. Danova, Dept. of English and American Studies

AMERICAN LITERATURE: from Modernism to Postmodernism



WEEK 1: Discussion of seminar work, grading policy and exams

WEEK 2: Modernist Poetry: from Heath and Norton Anthologies

  • G. Stein: “Susie Asado”, and from “Tender Buttons”
  • E. Pound: “In a Station of the Metro”, “A Few Don’ts”
  • W. C. Williams: “The Red Wheelbarrow”, “Spring and All”.

WEEK 3: E. Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

WEEK 4: F. S. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

WEEK 5: E. O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night

WEEK 6: Z. N. Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Chapter 2 and 3, Norton Anthology, 3rd edition, vol. II, p. 1438, or 4th edition, vol. II, p. 1428


WEEK 8: W. Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

WEEK 9: T. Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

WEEK 10: Jack Kerouac, On the Road

WEEK 11: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

WEEK 12  T. Morrison, Beloved

WEEK 13. Louise Erdrich. Love Medicine. Chapter “Saint Marie”


REQUIREMENTS: CLASS PARTICIPATION – 10 p.; ORAL PRESENTATION – 10 p.; MID-TERM QUIZ  – 25 p.; FINAL WRITTEN EXAM – 55p. All these contribute points up to maximum 100, that form your final grade.


Mid-term quiz: Definition of important concepts (literary and cultural); multiple-choice questions.


Final exam: Identify a passage from the texts included in the reading list and answer specific questions regarding it; write an essay (a choice from two given topics).




Outline of American Literature
A very useful hyperlinked site on the history of American Literature created by American Informational Agency, gives interesting information on various trends such as traditionalism, neoclassism, Midwestern Realism, etc.


Key Sites on American Literature
A collection of the most comprehensive sites on American Literature maintained at American colleges and universities
, compiled by the Department of State International Information programs.


American Studies Web
This page points to sites on the Internet dealing with American literature and History, it contains essays, syllabi, bibliographies, reviews, online journals, analysis of online texts.


Alan Liu’s Voice of the Shuttle at University of California, Santa Barbara

The earliest and probably largest list of links on humanitarian topics.


Kingwood College Library. American Cultural History: the 20th century.

A Webguide for each decade of the 20th century, providing historical and cultural background.


American Authors on the Web
A very good hyperlinked site on American authors founded in 1996, it presents a chronological listing of almost 800 authors and includе
s the authors’ short biographies, works, critical essays, etc.


The Internet Public Library

Online literary criticism collection. American literature: 20th century.


The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th edition, vol.D: 1914-1945; vol.E: since 1945


The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 4th edition

The site provides a timeline, biography of authors and links to academic sites for particular authors.


Electronic Poetry Center, SUNY Buffalo.

The site includes 150 American poets. – The Academy of American Poets

This site provides biography and links to resources on American poets.


American Dramatists

The site includes biography and links to resources on E. O’Neill and T. Williams.


The Mississippi Writers Page – University of Mississippi

A very good site to start on W. Faulkner


Internet School Library Media Center (ISLMC) African American Writers Page. On-line e-texts.

A wealth of electronic texts by African-American writers and extensive bibliography of literary criticism about them.


African-American Writers: A Celebration at Middle Tennessee State University

Meta-site including links to many general resources, as well as to individual African-American writers.


Voices from the Gaps. Women Writers of Color at the University of Minnesota

A major site on North American women writers from different ethnic backgrounds.


Storytellers: Native-American Authors On-line

A site dedicated to Native-American writers.


The Literary Encyclopedia and Literary Dictionary

The site provides author profiles, text profiles and topic essays in a series of user-friendly indexed databases. Links to other useful resources can be found at the foot of each entry.


Postmodernism is/in Fiction

A site dedicated to the exploration of contemporary writers. Original essays and links on Acker, Auster, DeLillo,  Marquez, Gibson, Hagedom, Morrison, Powers, Pynchon.


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