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2022 Spring


Andrew Giarelli
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

This course introduces students to the wide range and breadth of American literature, from colonial times to the present. Emphasis is on close reading of texts and their placement in the context of the development of North American culture and cultures.

American Literature

Course code: LIT 224

Semester and year: Spring 2022

Day and time: Mondays, 14:45-17:30 in Room 1.17 and live on MS-Teams for those who cannot attend in person due to the pandemic.

Instructor: Andrew L. Giarelli, Ph.D.

Instructor contact:

Consultation hours: Tuesdays, 13:00-15:00 on MS-Teams until otherwise notified.


Credits US/ECTS





15 weeks


Toefl iBT 71

Contact hours

42 hours

Course type

Bachelor Required-elective

2.   Course Description

This course introduces students to the wide range and breadth of American literature, from colonial times to the present. Emphasis is on close reading of texts and their placement in the context of the development of North American culture and cultures.

3.   Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Comprehend and have a clear understanding of key figures, movements and periods in American literature from colonial times to the present.
  • Understand and analyze literature via close reading of texts, attuning themselves to nuances of meaning.
  • Understand American literature within the context of its multiplicity of cultures and ethnicities, enriching their own perspectives.

4.   Reading Material

Required Materials

All required materials are available on the NEO course site.

“The Blue Hotel.” In Great Short Works of Stephen Crane. New York: Harper and Row (Perennial Classics), 1965, 1968.


Recommended Materials

  • The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 2017, 9th Edition, Vols. 1 and 2. Some course materials linked above and available on NEO are also in this anthology, as are supplemental essays on some of the writers covered and additional works from them, for students to use at their discretion. On reserve at AAU Library.

5.   Teaching methodology

Classes will consist of directed close reading, in which individual students will be asked precise questions about assigned texts in order to gradually unfold the layers of meaning in literary works. Student participation is thus more intense than in a normal lecture course, though also considerable time will be devoted to lectures. Because of the intense level of student participation expected, it will not be possible to miss classes and to simply “make up” work by viewing the class recording: every class session will lead to deeper and more challenging efforts at understanding layers of literary complexity.

6.   Course Schedule

Please note: No class on Monday, Feb. 7. The make-up class is Friday, Feb. 25.


Class Agenda

Lesson 1

Feb. 14


Topic: Introduction: Colonial North America: History, Cultures, Languages

Description: After an introductory lecture on colonial North America, we'll examine two key New England authors.

Reading: In Class: Cotton Mather, The Wonders of the Invisible World, excerpts; Anne Bradstreet, selected poems


Lesson 2

Feb. 21

Topic: Early U.S. Literature: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Description: The first major U.S. authors.

Reading: Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”; Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Browne”


Lesson 3

Friday, Feb. 25, 14:40-17:30

Topic: Poe and Dickinson

Description: Two early-mid 19th century outcasts whose work resonates deeply today.

Reading: Edgar Allen Poe, “William Wilson”; Emily Dickinson, selected poems and “Emily Dickinson” biographical essay on Poetry Foundation page.


Lesson 4

Feb. 28

Topic: Melville and Thoreau


Reading: Herman Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener”; Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.”



Lesson 5

March 7

Topic: Twain

Description: Examining a major American novel in the context of race and slavery.


1)   Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 1-16.

2)   U.S. Civil War YouTube Playlist.


Lesson 6

March 14

Topic: Twain


Reading: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 17-32.


Lesson 7

March 21

Topic: Twain, Whitman


Reading: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 33-43; 

Assignments/deadlines: Essay 1 due midnight, March 31 (note extended deadline).

March 28

NO CLASS: Mid-Term Break.

Lesson 8

April 4

Topic: Late 19th-Early 20th Century Fiction


Reading: 1) Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (193-99).

2) Kate Chopin, “The Story of An Hour”; Stephen Crane, “An Experiment In Misery”; Willa Cather, " Paul's Case" .


Lesson 9

April 11

Topic: A Poetic Revolution


Reading: William Carlos Williams, “Danse Russe,” “Tract,” “Dedication For A Plot of Ground,” “Spring and All,” “To Elsie,” “To A Poor Old Woman,” :Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” (excerpt); Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “The Emperor of Ice-Cream,” “The Idea of Order At Key West,” “Of Modern Poetry”; Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “Harlem”.


April 18


Lesson 10

April 25

Topic: Early 20th Century Modernist Fiction


Reading: Katherine Anne Porter, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” “Flowering Judas”; Ernest Hemingway, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”


Lesson 11

May 2

Topic: Postwar Modernism


Reading: Flannery O'Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”; James Baldwin, “Sonny's Blues”; Robert Lowell, “For the Union Dead.”


Lesson 12

May 9

Topic: Dissident Voices


Reading: Allen Ginsburg, “Howl”; Jack Kerouac, excerpts from On the Road  (Part 1, 1-2, pp. 2-8); Silvia Plath, “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus.”


Lesson 13

May 16

Topic: American Postmodernism

Topic: America Re-Imagined

Description: American literature post-1960s.

Reading: Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (excerpt); Amy Tan, “Two Kinds”; Sandra Cisneros, “Woman Hollering Creek.”

Assignments/deadlines:Final Exam Posted on NEO, due May 23, midnight.PLEASE NOTE NEW POSTING AND DUE DATES.

Lesson 14

May 23



1)   Essay 2 Due midnight, May 24.NOTE NEW Extended Deadline!

2)   Final Exam due midnight, May 23

7.   Course Requirements and Assessment (with estimated workloads)


Workload (average)

Weight in Final Grade

Evaluated Course Specific Learning Outcomes

Evaluated Institutional Learning Outcomes*

Class Participation



Consistent ability to interpret texts via instructor’s questions.





Ability to answer fact-based questions designed to test whether student has done the assigned reading.


Essays (2)



(20% each)

Incisive, persuausive textual analysis over an extended piece of writing..


Final Exam



Ability in a time-limited setting to synthesize insights developed over the semester into one or more cohesive short essays comparing several of the works studied.

1, 2


























*1 = Critical Thinking; 2 = Effective Communication; 3 = Effective and Responsible Action

8.   Detailed description of the assignments

Assignment 1: Class Participation. Here is where you will not only show me that you are carefully reading the works assigned, but also where you will develop and practice the skills you will use in your essays (see above). I will ask each of you questions designed to elicit hard thinking about the text in front of you, at least until and if we develop a pattern of full participation in the class.

Assessment breakdown

Assessed area


Proof that you have read the text


Ability to participate in group close reading of text






Assignment 2: Quizzes. These will test your factual knowledge of the works stuied to make sure you have done the reading. Each of the 10 quizzes will be unannounced and worth 1% of your final grade.

Assessment breakdown

Assessed area


Factual knowledge of reading.








Assignment 3: Essays. Each essay must be approximately 1500 words, about one of the works studied during the period leading up to which the essay is due. Your first essay must be about one of the works studied in Weeks 1-7, and your second about one of the works studied in Weeks 8-15.

Assessed area


Clear writing and correct grammar/punctuation.


Incisive, persuasive analysis.






Assignment 4: Final Exam. The final exam will consist of short answers and a choice of essay questions designed to get you to synthesize the thinking you have developed all semester into cohesive literary analysis of texts.

Assessed area


Factual knowledge of texts


Critical thinking displayed in essay answers


Clear writing and correct grammar/punctuation




9.   General Requirements and School Policies

General requirements

All coursework is governed by AAU’s academic rules. Students are expected to be familiar with the academic rules available in the Codex and Student Handbook and to maintain the highest standards of honesty and academic integrity in their work.

Electronic communication and submission

The university and instructors shall only use students’ university email address for communication. It is strongly recommended that any email communication between students and instructors take place in NEO LMS.

Each e-mail sent to an instructor that is about a new topic (meaning not a reply to an original email) shall have a new and clearly stated subject and shall have the course code in the subject, for example: “COM101-1 Mid-term Exam. Question”.

All electronic submissions are carried out through NEO LMS. No substantial pieces of writing (especially take home exams and essays) can be submitted outside of NEO LMS.


Attendance is required. Students who are absent 35 percent of classes will be failed (or administratively withdrawn from the course if most absences are excused). Students might also be marked absent if they miss a significant part of a class (by arriving late or leaving early) as specified in the syllabus.

Absence excuse and make-up options

Should a student be absent from classes for relevant reasons (illness, serious family matters), and the student wishes to request that the absence be excused, the student should submit an Absence Excuse Request Form supplemented with documents providing reasons for the absence to the Dean of Students within one week of the absence. If possible, it is recommended the instructor be informed of the absence in advance. Should a student be absent during the add/drop period due to a change in registration this will be an excused absence if s/he submits an Absence Excuse Request Form along with the finalized add/drop form.

Students whose absence has been excused by the Dean of Students are entitled to make up assignments and exams provided their nature allows. Assignments missed due to unexcused absences which cannot be made up, may result in a decreased or failing grade as specified in the syllabus.

Students are responsible for contacting their instructor within one week of the date the absence was excused to arrange for make-up options.


Late work: No late submissions will be accepted – please follow the deadlines.

Electronic devices

Electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops…) may be used only for class-related activities (taking notes, looking up related information, etc.). Any other use will result in the student being marked absent and/or being expelled from the class. No electronic devices may be used during tests or exams.

Eating is not allowed during classes.

Cheating and disruptive behavior

If a student engages in disruptive or other conduct unsuitable for a classroom environment of an institution of learning, the instructor may require the student to withdraw from the room for the duration of the activity or for the day and shall report the behavior to the Dean.

Students engaging in behavior which is suggestive of cheating (e.g. whispering or passing notes) will, at a minimum, be warned. In the case of continued misbehavior the student will be expelled from the exam and the exam will be marked as failed.

Plagiarism and Academic Tutoring Center

Plagiarism is “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Random House, New York, 1993)

Turnitin’s White Paper ‘The Plagiarism Spectrum’ (available at identifies 10 types of plagiarism ordered from most to least severe:

  1. CLONE: An act of submitting another’s work, word-for-word, as one’s own.
  2. CTRL-C: A written piece that contains significant portions of text from a single source without alterations.
  3. FIND–REPLACE: The act of changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source in a paper.
  4. REMIX: An act of paraphrasing from other sources and making the content fit together seamlessly.
  5. RECYCLE: The act of borrowing generously from one’s own previous work without citation; To self-plagiarize.
  6. HYBRID: The act of combining perfectly cited sources with copied passages—without citation—in one paper.
  7. MASHUP: A paper that represents a mix of copied material from several different sources without proper citation.
  8. 404 ERROR: A written piece that includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources
  9. AGGREGATOR: The “Aggregator” includes proper citation, but the paper contains almost no original work.
  10. RE-TWEET: This paper includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text’s original wording and/or structure.


As the minimum policy the types of plagiarism from 1 through 8 results in the failing grade from the assignment and must be reported to the Dean. The Dean may initiate a disciplinary procedure pursuant to the Academic Codex. Allegations of bought papers and intentional or consistent plagiarism always entail disciplinary hearing and may result in expulsion from AAU.

If unsure about technical aspects of writing, students are encouraged to consult their papers with the tutors of the AAU Academic Tutoring Center. For more information and/or to book a tutor, please contact the ATC at:

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities are asked to contact their instructor as soon as possible to discuss reasonable accommodation.

10.Grading Scale

Letter Grade




95 – 100

Excellent performance. The student has shown originality and displayed an exceptional grasp of the material and a deep analytical understanding of the subject.


90 – 94


87 – 89

Good performance. The student has mastered the material, understands the subject well and has shown some originality of thought and/or considerable effort.


83 – 86


80 – 82


77 – 79

Fair performance. The student has acquired an acceptable understanding of the material and essential subject matter of the course, but has not succeeded in translating this understanding into consistently creative or original work.


73 – 76


70 – 72


65 – 69

Poor. The student has shown some understanding of the material and subject matter covered during the course. The student’s work, however, has not shown enough effort or understanding to allow for a passing grade in School Required Courses. It does qualify as a passing mark for the General College Courses and Electives.


60 – 64


0 – 59

Fail. The student has not succeeded in mastering the subject matter covered in the course.

* Decimals should be rounded to the nearest whole number.


Prepared by: Andrew Giarelli

Date: Dec. 1, 2021


Approved by: Karen Grunow-Hasta

Date: Feb. 2, 2022



Here is the course outline:

1. Lesson 1 (Monday, Feb. 14): Colonial North America

2. Lesson 2 (Monday, Feb. 21): Early American Literature

3. Lesson 3 (Friday, Feb. 25): Poe and Dickinson, supplementary material

4. Lesson 4 (Monday, Feb. 28): Melville and Thoreau

5. Lessons 5-7(Monday March 7, 14 and 21): Twain

6. Lesson 8 (Monday, April 4): Whitman, Late 19th-Early 20th Century Fiction

7. Lesson 9 (Monday, April 11): A Poetic Revolution

8. Lesson 10 (Monday, April 25): Early 20th Century Modernist Fiction

9. Lesson 11 (Monday, May 2): Postwar Modernism

10. Lesson 12: Dissident Voices

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