Instructor: Dr. Todd Richardson

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ENGLISH 3320-001

American Fiction 1860-1900

Spring 2018. TTH 11AM-12:15PM MB ????
Instructor: Dr. Todd Richardson

Office: MB 4154

Phone: 552-2292


Office Hours: M 1:30-4:30, W 4:30-5:30, and by appointment.

Coffee at the SAC: Thursdays 2-3pm. Come join me for coffee and conversation.


  • Henry James, Bostonians

  • Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

  • Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition

  • Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick

  • Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

  • Jack London, Call of the Wild

  • Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence


America of the late nineteenth century went through a number of extraordinary changes, from the carnage of the Civil War to the end of slavery and the disastrous Reconstruction, to the rise of industrial capitalism, to shifting gender ideologies and sexual morality, to the rise of the middle class and mass culture, to the remarkable advance of technology and the American city. Many artists of this time, in coming to terms with these irrevocable changes, believed providing a healthy dose of reality to be more beneficial than indulging in romantic, or (as they often criticized them) escapist fantasies. The canonical and emerging texts we will study provide windows into the specific sites of cultural contention and transformation which characterize this time period. We will also discuss how our texts have defined or revised the literary movements known as Realism and Naturalism.

  • Become more familiar with your own and others’ cultures

  • Interpret, evaluate, and appreciate a wide variety of texts

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of literature from a broad historical and contemporary spectrum of the United States from a variety of cultures

  • Analyze how social context affects literature and language

  • Learn and demonstrate respect for differences of ethnicity, race, language, culture, and gender.


True to an adult learning environment, this course will present many sensitive topics, including race, class, sexuality, gender, religion, profanity, politics, and violence. I encourage you not to shy away from these topics in class, but you must be aware that others have different backgrounds and hold different opinions on any given subject than you, so please think before you speak. At the same time, it is of utmost importance that we all be willing to be open to and considerate of the thoughts and comments of others. Please respect each individual’s right to have and share her/his ideas and opinions. Listening to others’ perspectives should help create greater understanding of the diversity of experience in contemporary America. As chief facilitator, I will do my best to make our differences of background and opinion enhance the course.

Absences are costly in terms of missed learning opportunities. You are responsible for making up missed work. After three absences, your final grade will be marked down one third of a letter grade for each additional absence. Upon your eighth absence, you automatically fail the course. If you are engaged in a UTPB approved activity (such as a sport), you may make up missed class time by appropriate documentation and a 250 word discussion of the reading assigned for the missed class period within one week of your absence. To be fair to all students, I will make no exceptions to this policy. Also, please do not be late for class. Three late arrivals will equal one absence. Do not leave class early. If you must do so for a legitimate reason, please let me know before class starts. Finally, please shut off and PUT AWAY all cell phones, whether for talking or texting, and laptop computers. If you text during class, I might ask you to leave. If you must leave your cell phone on to receive emergency phone calls, please leave it on vibrate and leave the room if you must take a call. Be advised that recording this (and any) class at UTPB, without the consent of the instructor, is a violation of university policy.


All classroom behavior should enhance the instructor’s ability to conduct the class and the ability of other students to learn from the instructional program (Code of Student Life). Unacceptable or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Students engaging in unacceptable behavior may be instructed to leave the classroom. Inappropriate behavior may result in disciplinary action or referral to the University’s Behavioral Intervention Team. This prohibition applies to all instructional forums, including electronic, classroom, discussion groups, etc.


Papers must be word processed. Margins should be one inch at the top, bottom, and sides. Font size must be 12 point and lines must be double spaced (2.0). Documentation style should be MLA. Papers must be turned in by the end of the day on the day that they are due. If you need an extension for some reason, you must speak with me at least two days before the due date. Paper grades will drop 1/3 letter grade for each day that they are late. I encourage you to use the writing center: 552-2302.


Cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty are serious offenses. Plagiarism is the undocumented use of another person’s ideas, whether the ideas come from a published source (books, magazines, the internet, etc.) or from someone else’s paper. Be advised that I have powerful software which detects plagiarism quickly and accurately. Those who plagiarize will fail the class and will be referred to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Additional punishments could include expulsion from the university.


Any student who feels that he or she may require accommodations for any type of physical or learning disability should consult with me in the first week of class. I’ll likely ask you to complete the following process: 1) provide documentation of disability to PASS Office -- contact Leticia Madrid, Director of the PASS Office, MB 1160, 552-2631 or email 2) receive a letter from this office 3) provide me with a copy of this letter.


  • Two 5-8 page critical analysis papers -- 20% each. Assignment sheets are forthcoming.

  • Midterm Exam–10%.

  • Final Exam–15%.

  • Presentation, including evaluation–10%. You and one or two other students will teach the class about historical and cultural contexts of the work under investigation for that day. I will circulate a sign-up sheet.

  • In-class writings–15%. I will regularly give unannounced in-class essay assignments in order to gauge your understanding of assigned readings. I can only give make-up essays to students engaged in UTPB sponsored off-campus activities.

  • Class Participation–10%. Everyone is expected to be present and to make a positive and respectful contribution. Good participation includes sharing insights, posing questions, readiness to respond to my comments and those of your classmates, teamwork in group discussions, attentive listening, note taking, etc.

If you have any questions about course policies or requirements, please feel free to ask me.

Class Schedule (Subject to Change)
1/9 Introduction and course overview.
Capitalism and the Growth of Industry

1/11 Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick

1/16 Ragged Dick, cont.

1/18 Rebecca Harding Davis “Life in the Iron Mills” (handout)

Realism and Women’s Rights Reform

1/23 Henry James, “Daisy Miller” (handout) [Jan. 24: last day to drop a class without creating an academic record]

1/25 “Daisy Miller,” cont., Kate Chopin, stories (handout)
1/30 Chopin, cont.

2/1 Chopin, cont.

2/6 Henry James The Bostonians

2/8 Bostonians, cont.

2/13 Bostonians, cont. First Paper Due.

2/15 Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

2/20 The Age of Innocence, cont.

2/22 The Age of Innocence, cont.

2/27 Exam
Race and Democracy

3/1 Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

3/6 Huckleberry Finn, cont.

3/8 Huckleberry Finn, cont.

3/13 and 3/15 Spring Break
3/20 W. E. B. DuBois, from The Souls of Black Folk; Booker T. Washington, selections.

3/22 Charles Chesnutt, Marrow of Tradition [3/23: Last day to withdraw from class]

3/27 Marrow of Tradition, cont.

3/29 Marrow of Tradition, cont.


4/3 Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (handout)

4/5 “The Yellow Wallpaper” cont.
4/10 Jack London, Call of the Wild. Second Paper Due.

4/12 Call of the Wild, cont.

4/17 Stephen Crane, Maggie.

4/19 Maggie, cont.,

4/24 catch-up day

4/26 wrap up, exam review.

Final exam: Tuesday, May 1, 10:15-12:15.

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