Aml 2070: Survey of American Literature

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AML 2070: Survey of American Literature

Section 6102; Tues Periods 8-9 (3:00pm-4:55pm); Thurs Period 9 (4:05pm-4:55pm)

Location: MAT 0116

Spring 2014

Instructor: Robin Brooks Office: Turlington 4325

Email: Office Hours: R 2:00p-4:00p and by appt.

Website: Course Website:

Literary Explorations of Diversity and the American Experience
Course Description:
This course introduces students to several of the major writers, issues and forms of American literature with particular attention to literary contributions from these ethnic groups: Native American, African American, Latino/a American, and Asian American. The canonical and non-canonical readings of the course provide an overview of some of the most important and outstanding works and authors at different periods in American literary history, in addition to information about the cultural, historical and theoretical contexts of those works. Our discussions will focus on themes of subjectivity, language, class, gender, religion/spirituality, identity, and community.
Course Objectives:
After successfully completing this course, students will:

  • Gain an informed perspective on American Multi-Ethnic literature and related critical and theoretical approaches;

  • Critically analyze multiple literary genres, including the short story, novel, drama, poetry, and essay, and show an awareness of writing literary critique as a process that includes phases of planning, drafting, and revising;

  • Become proficient with essay writing by formulating a thesis appropriate to topic and audience, developing ideas with relevant information and evidence, and editing and proofreading to correct common errors in grammar, mechanics and usage;

  • Gain familiarity with the basic elements of research and documentation by integrating materials from various texts into their own writing and documenting according to appropriate conventions;

  • Become acquainted with specific cultural traditions that inform the literary practices of American ethnic groups; and

  • Comprehend how American Multi-Ethnic literature relates to the larger grouping of American literature in general and explain their complex interrelation.

Additionally, the student learning outcomes for this course are as detailed in the Undergraduate Catalog at:

Required Text (available at UF Bookstore):

Beaty, Jerome, and J. Paul Hunter, eds. New Worlds of Literature: Writings from America's Many Cultures. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994.

Course Reserve Readings:

See the course schedule for the dates when these readings are required.  Bring a printed copy of the excerpt for our discussions. 

  • Bonnin, Gertrude. The School Days of an Indian Girl.

  • Cisneros, “Barbie-Q.

  • Del Rio, Eduardo R. Introduction to Anthology of Latino Literature.

  • Fenelon, James V. “Native Nations and American Indians: Culture, Curriculum and Social Justice.”

  • Standing Bear, Luther. My People, The Sioux.

  • Takaki, Ronald. “From a Different Shore: Their History Bursts with Telling.”

Assignments and Grading:
Students are asked to come to each class session prepared to discuss the assigned reading materials. Success in this course depends upon the level of engagement that students bring and their final grade will reflect the quality and effort demonstrated throughout the semester. The writing in this course will be evaluated on content, organization and coherence, argument and support, style and mechanics. The assignment breakdown is as follows:



Mini-Presentation (7-10 minutes)


Mini-Presentation Paper (4 pages/1200 words)


Three Short Critical Essays (3 pages each/900 words)


Final Paper (7 pages/2100 words)



Students must actively and consistently engage in all class discussions. Students must bring a “discussion question” to each class session based on the reading for that particular day. Students may be asked to read it aloud and hand it in to me. A discussion question calls for an interpretive response and cannot be answered simply with a factual answer. For example, after reading Edwin Markham’s “Outwitted” you may pose the following question: “What is the symbolic meaning of the circle in Markham’s poem and what specific lines or words brought you to your conclusion?” Another example of a discussion question might be: “In the excerpt from Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, why do you think the author chose the character Legba to be representative of an African deity?” There will also be unannounced quizzes on a regular basis to facilitate keeping up with the readings. Participation also includes group work, peer review workshops, class work, and homework.

Mini-Presentation (10-15 minutes)

The presentation grade consists of students leading discussion once during the semester. The purpose is to encourage an active, involved role in learning. In general, students will state significant issues/themes from the reading (highlighting key passages as support) throughout the presentation and end with two discussion questions. Be sure also to provide background information either on the author, text, or an event in the text. Think of the mini-presentation as an extension of the daily “discussion question” requirement. Please use a visual aid, such as a PowerPoint presentation or a handout, to guide the audience.

Mini-Presentation Paper (4 pages/1200 words)

The presentation paper is due two weeks after the mini-presentation. One week after their presentation, students will complete a draft of the paper and meet with the instructor for feedback during office hours. Students must write a unified, organized, and coherent analytical essay on the text(s) in which they presented. Students are expected to use the theoretical approach they discussed in their presentation and they must also introduce the ideas of other critical writers into the paper. Use at least three secondary sources.

Three Short Critical Essays (3 pages each/900 words)

Students will write three short critical essays that analyze course readings throughout the semester. The course is divided into four units: Native American, African American, Latino/a American, and Asian American. Your three essays must be on three different units. Provide analysis of a major theme/concept, scene or figure from the readings of the particular unit in which we are discussing in class. The short critical essay is due at the end of the week (Thursday) in which class discussion on that particular unit takes place. The first essay is due February 6th and it can focus on the Native American or African American units. Students choose when they submit the other two essays, but the remaining two essays must be completed by April 1st. Use quotations from the text and properly cite at least one outside source to provide evidence for your claims/thesis. Please be sure to avoid plagiarism. This is NOT a summary essay.

Final Paper (7 pages/2100 words)

The final paper is a literary research paper due the last week of class. This assignment includes a paper prospectus, draft, and final revision. Students will write the paper on any of the course readings. An effective paper will require taking into account multiple types and sources of information. The paper should support your claims with details, illustrations, and examples from primary and secondary sources. Students may ask the instructor for sample topics if they have trouble developing a topic of their own. Use at least five secondary sources.

Note: Use MLA format for all papers, which includes one-inch margins all around, double-spaced, name and page number on every page at top right. Also, only use Times New Roman font (12 pt) on all papers. Bring in a hard copy of your paper on its due date and upload an electronic copy of the paper before class time the day it is due on the class E-Learning website. To access the class website, go to the UF homepage []. Click on “e-learning” at the top right of the page (next to the Gator Webmail link). Log in using a Gator Link username and password.

Grading Scale:

UF has recently instituted minus grades. As a result, letter grades now have different grade point equivalencies. For more information, see:








































This course can satisfy the UF General Education requirement for Composition or Humanities. For more information, see:

This course can provide 6000 words toward fulfillment of the UF requirement for writing. For more information, see: You must pass this course with a grade of “C” or better to receive the 6,000 University Writing Requirement credit. You must turn in all papers to receive credit for writing 6,000 words.

Final Grade Appeals

If students have any disagreements about their final grade, please contact the instructor so that she can address the concerns. If the discussion about the grade does not resolve the problem, students may appeal a final grade by filling out a form available from Carla Blount, Department of English Program Assistant. Grade appeals may result in a higher, unchanged, or lower final grade. Keep a copy of all graded work.

Grading Criteria:

In general, the grading guidelines for your papers are based on content, organization, style/expression and grammar/mechanics. Please see below:

A” Paper: The paper meets all the requirements in the assignment directions. The thesis is clear and supported. Paragraphs are fully developed and unified in relation to the thesis. The writing is coherent and the grammar and MLA formatting are correct.

B” Paper: The paper meets most of the requirements in the assignment directions. The thesis is clear and supported, but not as well as an “A” paper. Paragraphs are developed and unified in relation to the thesis, but not as well as an “A” paper. The writing is mostly coherent and the grammar and MLA formatting are mostly correct.

C” Paper: The paper meets some of the requirements in the assignment directions. The thesis is not very clear and it is not always supported. Some paragraphs lack development and unity in relation to the thesis. The writing is not very coherent and the grammar and MLA formatting are correct most of the time.

D” Paper and below: The paper does not meet the requirements in the assignment directions. The thesis is not clear and supported. Paragraphs are neither fully developed nor unified in relation to the thesis. The writing is not coherent and there may be grammatical errors and incorrect use of the MLA format.

Course and University Policies:

  1. Attendance: Regular attendance is crucial to classroom learning. Students are expected to attend all classes. If students miss more than four sessions of class their final grades will be lowered. Frequent lateness and leaving early will also hurt students’ final grade, as the instructor will deduct points from their participation grade. Please see the following link for additional information regarding the university’s attendance policy: Note: Regardless of the reason for missing a class, students are responsible for arranging to make up missed work.

  2. Participation: Students are expected to be prepared for class and to participate in class discussions and other activities. Such participation will be difficult unless they have read the assigned material and have the text(s).

  3. Late Assignments: Students are expected to turn in papers, exams, and all other work on the due date identified in the syllabus. If students are unable to meet this requirement, please speak with the instructor in advance of the due date to make other arrangements. Unexcused late assignments may not be accepted.

  4. Academic Honesty: Plagiarism and other kinds of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. All students are required to abide by the Student Honor Code. For more information about academic honesty, including definitions of plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration, see:

  1. Classroom Behavior: Students must be respectful towards colleagues, the instructor, and themselves at all times. Be open to differing points of view. Turn off all cell phones before class and do not text during class. UF provides an educational and working environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sex discrimination and sexual harassment. For more about UF policies regarding harassment, see:

  2. Getting Help: If students feel they need help with work, speak with the instructor before or after class or go to the Reading & Writing Center located in the Teaching Center Mezzanine in SW Broward Hall. Do not wait until the last minute!

  3. Please note the Disability Resource Center in the Dean of Students Office provides students and faculty with information and support regarding accommodations for students with disabilities in the classroom. For more information, see:

Course Schedule

This schedule is subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.

Have the materials read before class.

Week 1


  • Course introduction: Learn about class expectations and requirements through review of the syllabus.


  • Introduction to Multicultural literature.

Week 2



  • Lowe, John. “Multicultural Literature in the United States: Advent and Process.” U.S. Society and Values 5.1 (February 2000): 7-10 or available on internet at Print for class. Review Active Reading Strategies.


  • Intro to Native American Literature

  • Fenelon, James V. “Native Nations and American Indians: Culture, Curriculum and Social Justice” (course reserves under North Carolina Central University)

Week 3


  • Quiz (all others will be unannounced)

  • Sign up for presentation dates

  • Standing Bear, My People, The Sioux excerpt (e-learning Resource tab)

  • NWL p. 628 Allen, “Pocahontas to Her English Husband, John Rolfe”


  • NWL p. 217-9 Young Bear, “In the First Place of My Life”; Bonnin, The School Days of an Indian Girl (reserves)

Week 4


  • Begin student presentations

  • NWL p. 200-7 Silko, “Private Property”; NWL p. 650 Bruchac “Ellis Island”


  • NWL p. 283-5 Benedict,“Tahotahontanekentseratkerontakwenhakie”; NWL p. 411-16 Silko, “[Long Time Ago]”

Week 5



  • Intro to African American Literature

  • Intro to Norton Anthology of African American Literature p. 2011-2014 (reserves); Brown, excerpt from Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter preface and ch. 1 “The Negro Sale” p. 55-64 (reserves or online)

  • Critical Essay 1 DRAFT Due


  • NWL p. 467-82 Morrison, “Recitatif”

  • Critical Essay 1 Due

Week 6


  • NWL p. 723-9 Bambara, “The Lesson”


  • NWL p. 344-6 Naylor, “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?”; NWL p.578-80 Thomas, “Next Life, I'll Be White”

Week 7

UNIT 3 (begins 2/20)


  • Brissette, Novel excerpt (reserves)


  • Intro to Latino/a American Literature

  • Del Rio, Eduardo R. Introduction to Anthology of Latino Literature (reserves);

  • NWL p. 778-85 Monteagudo, “Miami-Florida”

Week 8


  • NWL p. 238-41 Cofer, “More Room”; p. 252-3 Cisneros, “Barbie-Q” (reserves) NWL p. 152-4 Munoz, “Little Sister Born in this Land”


  • NWL p. 695-8 Soto, “Like Mexicans”; NWL p. 774-5 Baca, “So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs from Americans”; NWL p. 764 Mora, “Immigrants”

Week 9


  • Spring Break


  • Spring Break

Week 10

UNIT 4 (begins 3/13)


  • NWL p. 404-5 Lucero-Trujillo, “Roseville, Minn., U. S. A.”; NWL p. 260-269 Martinez-Serros, “LEARN! LEARN!”


  • Intro to Asian American Literature

  • Takaki, Ronald. “From a Different Shore: Their History Bursts with Telling” (reserves)

  • NWL p. 730-42 Jen, “In the American Society”

Week 11


  • NWL p. 10-25 Tan, “A Pair of Tickets”


  • NWL p. 242-4 Miyasaki, “Obachan”; NWL p. 519-20 Okita, “In Response to Executive Order 9066; NWL p. 770 Yamada, “The Question of Loyalty”

Week 12


  • NWL p. 159-65 Woo, “Letter to Ma”; NWL p. 422-425 Shaheen, “The Media’s Image of Arabs”


  • NWL p. 190-199 Kingston, “No Name Woman”

Week 13


  • Final Critical Essay due - Conferences


  • Conferences

Week 14


  • Final Paper Prospectus Due


  • Conferences

Week 15


  • Paper Draft Due, Peer review workshop –Part 1


  • Peer review workshop-Part 2

Week 16


  • End of Class, Final Paper Due

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