You are on page 1of 8



(Course Instructor: Mihai Mndra

Seminar Instructors: Diana Benea, Bogdan Coman)

Course Description


This is a survey (i.e. introductory) course of/to twentieth century American literature, which aims (at the
same time with offering a brief presentation of complex literary phenomena) to build on students
previous knowledge and experience with literature as an act of communication (see M. Bakhtin, Stuart
Hall, Philip Phelan, Marie-Laure Ryan, David Herman, M. Fludernik, Wai Chee Dimock, etc.). Specifically,
according to Bologna/Lisbon requirements, the course (and seminars) will focus on developing
students academic skills (especially text reading and analysis) rather than delivering information. The
structure of the course / seminars will, therefore, be slightly different from the traditional ones.

Structure and Organization

Every lecture consists in the discussion of a PowerPoint Presentation which introduces specific historical
background (ideological, political, social, cultural) and corresponding major literary issues (approx. 60
minutes), followed by an exchange of close reading interpretations of relevant excerpts from the texts
related to the respective lecture (handouts). Whereas the first part is both expository and investigative,
the second one requires the students applied intellectual attendance. To facilitate the discussions, the
students are required to access the PowerPoint presentations and handouts in an electronic group site
one week before the class. They will prepare questions/points of view concerning the PP issues for the
first part of the course and will annotate and comment the excerpts (close cultural and literary readings)
in relation to the PowerPoint presentation information, in the second period of the course class.

All PowerPoint presentations and handouts, as well as other relevant materials are available in the
Files section of the following yahoo group:
Students are kindly asked to follow the instructions provided by the course instructor in the file titled
Evaluare in order to obtain access to the course materials on the group.

When appropriate (see syllabus), the PowerPoint presentation is complemented and / or replaced by
audio and/or visual materials. The multimedia resources will be accompanied by specific sets of
questions, which will be distributed a few minutes in advance of the screening / listening thereof.


- To create competent readers of cultural markers and textual patterns, i.e. the students should be able
to identify the literary strategies used by the authors included in the reading lists below, as a response
to contemporary political, social, and aesthetic ideologies (all the information concerning these matters
is mentioned in the PowerPoint presentations); to illustrate the complex variety of literary responses;
the reading lists contain both mainstream and multicultural texts.
- To enable students to become proficient writers / speakers in standard academic English
- To develop the students research-specific and technical / methodological skills (optional, as this is an
undergraduate course / class; this third objective may be applicable only to some of the students).

Minimum Requirements:

- 5 novels, 7 poems, 3 short stories, 1 play from the Reading List (marked in yellow)

- Fragments from the reading items will be discussed and tested in the course PowerPoint Presentations,
course handouts, seminar quizzes, seminar handouts, and the final exam.

- 50% attendance: full attendance of 5 lectures

Methodological Reference

Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Ed. Michael Holquist. Austin, Texas: University
of Texas Press, 1982.
Hall, Stuart, ed. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Milton Keynes: The
Open University, 1997.
Phelan, James. Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative.
Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2007.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. Fictionality. Ed. David Herman. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. Avatars of the Story. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
Fludernik, Monika. An Introduction to Narratology. London & New York: Rutledge, 2009.
Dimock, Wai Chee. Through Other Continents: American Literature across Deep Time. Princeton &
Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Lecture 1: Industrialization. International Exhibitions. The Gilded Age.New Trends in American

Photography, Painting, and Architecture. Main Cultural and Political Directions (1900 1945)

Audio & visual materials A selection from:

Modern Times. Dir. Charles Chaplin. Perf. Charlie Chaplin. 1936.

A Biography of America. Dir. Fred Barzyk. 2000. Chapters 11, 13, 16 & 17.

America 1900. Dir. David Grubin. A David Grubin Productions, Inc. film for the American
Experience (PBS). 1998.

READING LIST (handout 1):

William Graham Sumner, Sociology (1881)
Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption (The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899)
Theodore Roosevelt, The Man with the Muck-Rake (1906)
William James What Pragmatism Means (Pragmatism, 1907)
Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910)
The Socialist Party Platform (1912;

Lecture 2: The Civil War. Post-bellum Magazines. Realism & The Genteel Tradition Regionalism &
Realism American Naturalism (1890s 1922).

Audio & visual materials A selection from:

Willa Cather: The Road is All. Dir. Joel Geyer. American Masters (PBS). 2005.

READING LIST (handout 2):

William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885),
Frank Norris, The Octopus (1901)/ Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906);
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900) / Jack Londons Call of the Wild (1903)
Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922) / Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (1913) / My ntonia (1918)

Lecture 3: American Modernism

General Introduction / Prerequisites: the two world wars as historical markers; major definers of the
1920s & 1930s; Marxism and Communism; new discourses on the Self (development of social sciences);
science and technology; modernist art & music; popular culture & cinema; American versions of
modernism; ethnic modernisms the Harlem Renaissance.

Audio & visual materials A selection from:

Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire (1912).
Igor Stravinsky, The Firebird (1910).
Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five, Orys Creole Trombone, 1927.
Jelly Roll Mortons Red Hot Pepper, Beale Street Blues, 1927.
A Biography of America. Dir. Fred Barzyk. 2000. Chapters 20 & 22.
Woodrow Wilson. Dirs. Carl Byker and Mitch Wilson. WGBH Educational Foundation and
Community Television of Southern California. 2001.
Modern Times. Dir. Charles Chaplin. Perf. Charlie Chaplin. 1936.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Dir. David Grubin. A David Grubin Productions, Inc. film for THE

Lectures 4 & 5: American Modernist Fiction

Audio & visual materials A selection from:

Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea. Dir. DeWitt Sage. 2005.

William Faulkner. Dir. Kultur Video. Perf. William Faulkner. 2006.

Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1903-1911; 1925)
Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro (NORTON 1985, VOL. II) / The Sun Also Rises
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)
John Dos Passos, The Big Money, collected 1938 (Newsreel LXVIII, The Camera Eye (51), Mary
French) (NORTON 1985, VOL. II)
Jean Toomer, Cane (1923; EXCERPTS IN NORTON 1985, VOL. II).
Anzia Yezierska Children of Loneliness (1923; Jewish American Literature. Norton 1985, Vol. II

Lecture 6: American Modernist Poetry

Audio & visual materials: audio recordings of the poems below.


Ezra Pound: In a Station of the Metro,(1913, 1916); "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (Life and
Contacts) (1920); The Cantos (1925) (Canto I); A Retrospect (1918)
Wallace Stevens: The Emperor of Ice Cream, (Norton 1985, Vol. II 1985, 1075 -76)Thirteen
Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1931) (Norton 1985, Vol. II 1985, 1077 78) [Lectures 5 & 6,
slides: 109 117]; The Idea of Order at Key West (1936) (Norton 1985, Vol. II, 1078 79).
William Carlos Williams: The Red Wheelbarrow (1923); From Paterson (1946 1958) (Book I.
The Delineaments of the Giants, see PDF doc. in electronic group Files; Book II. Sunday in the
Park in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Second Edition. Eds. Richard Ellmann and in
Robert OClair, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1988, 325 344 (Lectures 5 & 6, slides: 52-
92; PDF docs in Files electronic group) Prologue to Kora in Hell (1920) (Imaginations. New York:
New Directions, 1971, 6 28).
Langston Hughes The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1920), Mother to Son (1922); From The
Negro Artist and the Racial Mountains (Norton, Seventh Edition. Vol. D. 2007, 1512 1513).

Lecture 7: After Modernism (1950s-1970s)

Major cultural and political directions in U.S.A. (1940s 1970s); San Francisco Renaissance; Black
Mountain Poets; Beat and Confessional poetry; New York School of poetry; the poetics & politics of
postmodernism (I. Hassan, L. Hutcheon, B. McHale, S. Olster).

Audio & visual materials A selection from:

A Biography of America. Dir. Fred Barzyk. 2000. Chapters 23 & 24.

Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1985. Dir. Judith Vecchione. 1986.
Chapeters 1-5.
Vietnam: A Television History. Dir. Judith Vecchione. 1983, 1997.
The Source. Dir. Chuck Workman. 1999.
Audio recordings of Ginsbergs, Plaths and Ashberys poems.

Allen Ginsberg: Howl (1955/1956, I) & A Supermarket in California (1956)
Robert Lowell: Skunk Hour (1958), For the Union Dead (1964)
Sylvia Plath: Daddy (1962), Lady Lazarus (1965)
John Ashbery: Paradoxes and Oxymorons (1981), Introduction (1984)

Lecture 8: Modern Realism

Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953); John Updike, Separating (1974; Norton
1985, Vol. II) / Rabbit Run (1960) OR Norman Mailer, The Man Who Studied Yoga (1959;
Norton 1985, Vol. II)
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man.

Lecture 9: Postmodernist Fiction


Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) / Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955).

John Barth, Life Story (1968), The Floating Opera (1956) / Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot
49 (1966)

Lecture 10: Ethnic Postmodernism & Post-postmodernism

Classical & neo-/ postmodern slave narratives (Toni Morrison; Alice Walker); Chicana Literature: Gloria
Anzalda; Native American Fiction: Leslie Marmon Silko. Feminism: Anne Tyler, Joyce Carol Oates;
Feminism and ethnic identity: Maxine Hong Kingston; Transnational mappings of ethnic selves (J.S.
Foer); Raymond Carver and Minimalism; Narrating the Postmodern: Paul Auster, Russell Banks, and Don


Raymond Carver, Cathedral (1983)

Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy ( 1987) OR Russell Banks, Affliction (1989) OR Don DeLillo,
White Noise (1985) OR J.S. Foer, Everything is Illuminated (2002).
Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
Gloria Anzalda, La consciencia de la mestiza / Towards a New Consciousness; How to Tame
a Wild Tongue; El sonavabitche (1987; photocopies)
Leslie Marmon Silko, Lullaby (1981; Photocopy)
Any novel by any of the following novelists: Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates.

Lecture 11: 20th Century American Drama.

Audio & visual materials:
Eugene O'Neill. Dir. Ric Burns. A Steeplechase Films Production For American Experience. 2006.

Tennessee Williams: Orpheus of the AmericanStage. Dir. Merrill Brockway. PBS American
Masters. 1994.

A Streetcar Named Desire. Dir. Elia Kazan.1951.

READING LIST (handout 8):

Eugene ONeill, The Emperor Jones (1920)
T. Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)
A. Miller, The Crucible (1953)

General Reference (as available in Room 4 and BCU)

Barrish, Philip J. The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism. Cambridge UK: Cambridge
University Press, 2011.
Bigsby, C. W. E. A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Volumes 1 & 2. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Bilton, Allan. An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction. New York: New York University Press,
Cayton, Marx Kupiec, ed. Encyclopedia of American Social History. 3 volumes, New York: Scribner's,
Charters, Ann, ed. The Portable Beat Reader. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Elliott, Emory et al. The Columbia History of the American Novel. New York: Columbia University Press,
Elliott, Emory et al. The Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1988.
Howarth, Peter. The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University
Press, 2012.
Hume, Kathryn. American Dream, American Nightmare: Fiction since 1960. Urbana and Chicago:
University of Illinois Press, 2000.
MacGowan, Christopher. 20th Century American Poetry. New York: Blackwell Publishing 2004.
Nagel, James and Tom Quirk, eds. The Portable American Realism Reader. New York: Penguin Books,
Parini, Jay. The Columbia History of American Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
Pizer, Donald. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth Century American Literature. Carbondale, IL:
Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.
Sacvan Bercovitch et al. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Volumes 5, 6, 7 & 8. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1996 & 1996.
Shi, David E. Facing Facts. Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850 1920. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1995.
Sim, Stuart. The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.
Tabbi, Joseph. Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk. Ithaca
and London: Cornell University Press, 1995.
Tompkins, Vincent, ed. American Decades. New York: Gale Research, 1996.

Faculty Books / BCU (undergraduate / graduate level):

Bottez, Monica. Analysing Narrative Fiction: Reading Strategies. Bucuresti: Editura Universitatii din
Bucuresti, 2007.
Bottez, Monica. Motley Landscapes: Studies in Post-war American Fiction. Bucuresti: Editura
Universitatii din Bucuresti, 1997.
Mihaila, Rodica. Turning the Wheel: The Construction of Power Relations in Contemporary American
Womens Poetry. Bucuresti: Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti, 1995.
Mihaila, Rodica. Spatii ale realului n proza americana: ntre autobiografie si evanghelia
americana.Brasov: Concordia, 2000.
Mindra, Mihai. The Phenomenology of the Novel. Iasi: Institutul European, 2002: 208 257.
Mindra, Mihai. Strategists of Assimilation. Fundatia Nationala pentru Stiinta si Arta, Academia Romana,
Mindra, Mihai. Narrative Constructs and Border Transgressions in Jewish-American Holocaust Fiction.
Studies in Jewish American Literature, 28 (2009): 46 - 54.
Peiu, Anca. Trecutul timpului perfect: de la Thomas Mann la William Faulkner. Bucuresti: Editura
Universitatii din Bucuresti, 1997 [chapter(s) on The Sound and the Fury]
Surdulescu, Radu. The Raping of Identity: Studies on Physical and Symbolic Violence. Iasi: Institutul
European, 2006: 116-127.

Additionally, students may ask the course/seminar instructor(s) for help with specific bibliographies,
preferably via e-mail for efficient communication.



Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-5 see electronic book copy and Lectures 8-9 relevant slides.


Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire see electronic play copy and the two books of criticism
(Thomas P. Adler, The Moth and the Lantern; The Cambridge History of American Drama, Vol. 3, in the
Files/E-texts section of the electronic group.


Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird see Lecture 6 relevant slides.
Sylvia Plath: Lady Lazarus see document Lady Lazarus Critique in Files, electronic group.

Location of Primary Sources:

BCU (sucursala Pitar Mos)

Studii Americane (Sala 4)
E-texts: /
Location of Secondary Sources:

BCU (main hall in Piata Revolutiei & Pitar Mos)

American Studies Room (Sala 4 / Room 4)
Electronic books: (subscription necessary)
Electronic articles: ProQuest, EBSCO, Sage Journals Online, Oxford Journals, Project Muse , Cambridge Journals (available in Room 4
and at BCU)