Survey courses are meant to provide students with a broad overview of the major works and literary trends associated with a certain span of time and usually with a particular land mass. In this class, we attempt to map the literary landscape of North America from the end of the Civil War to present day.
Rather than going from a purely historical point of view, we are going to spend time looking at the development of several genres during this time period including poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction journalistic pieces. We will also look at the emerging forms of children’s literature and graphic literature. Our two novels for the class, Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, frame an ongoing discussion we will have about race and identity in American literature.