Course code:



M - Intermediate

This course focuses on American fiction of the twentieth century.

As those who have taken City/Country I or a U.S. History course should be aware, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a time of dramatic change in the American landscape. Over the twentieth century, increasing urbanization, immigration and industrialization, the development of large-scale and industrial agriculture, the construction of a national highway system and the rise of the suburbs continue this trend.

As in the nineteenth-century, “realistic” fiction of social problems and nostalgic stories of a more “realistic” rural life compete to represent the American landscape in literary form. However, along with the Depression there are new elements, representing the intensity of economic and psychological despair not only for the working poor but for the middle and upper classes. During this period the national literature found itself without a religious framework while continuing to be self-conscious of regional differences, especially of the tension between city and country. American literature from the period 1900-1960 shows ever more dramatic realistic representations of the changing social landscape as well as innovative experimental structures aiming to represent the experience of and feeling for place in new, intensely evocative and secular ways.

Examining works that portray the broad spectrum of American landscapes, we will look at how a complex, turbulent, multicultural, and simultaneously urban and rural American culture defines itself and its sense of values including those of gender, class, race and social relations against these landscapes.

Authors we may read include: Wharton, Fitzgerald, Yezierska, Anderson, Cather, Faulkner, Hurston, Glasgow, Dos Passos, Steinbeck, Petry, and O’Connor. There will be two extra, evening classes during week 6 (Short Fiction Week), and a modest lab fee. Evaluation will be based on frequent response papers, two short papers, and a short fiction project, as well as class participation. Preference will be given to those students who have completed City/Country I: American Literary Landscapes 1860-1920.


Permission of instructor

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.