English 262 - Spring, 2013

American Literature After 1914

    Topic: What's Left of American Literature?

Class Information

Instructor: Stratton, Matthew
CRN: 62599
Time: W 3:10-6:00
Location: 120 Voorhies

Description

    What’s Left of American Literature?

    The wildly heterogeneous set of loose and strong political affiliations known as “The Left” in the twentieth-century United States is often understood as having at least a tripartite structure: the aesthetic-activist, anarchist-socialist “Lyrical Left” centered in the Greenwich Village of World War I; the industrial, agricultural, and frequently communist “Old Left” struggling from the 1920s through the 1950s; and a counter-cultural “New Left,” the decline of which began after the global student activisms of 1968. This course will trace an aesthetic-philosophical-political history of these three interwoven movements, motivated by the guiding questions of whether and whither such distinctions and demarcations are useful in terms of a specifically literary history. We will also consider more recent depictions of these movements in order to consider how their histories are themselves aestheticized and commodified in ways that are both consonant and dissonant with the aesthetic and political precepts of the movements themselves.

    In addition to the texts listed below, we will read selections from the following: Randolph Bourne, The Radical Will: Selected Writings 1911-1918; Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays (1910); Van Wyck Brooks, America's Coming-of-Age (1915); John Dewey, Early Writings (selections to 1940) and The Public and Its Problems (1927); V.F. Calverton, The Liberation of American Literature (1932); Granville Hicks, Proletarian Literature in the United States (1935); Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History (1937); C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956); Hannah Arendt, “The Crisis In Culture: Its Social and Its Political Significance” (1961); "The Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society" (1962); Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (1964); Ben Morea, Black Mask and Up Against the Wall Motherfucker (1966-1969); Abbie Hoffman, Fuck the System (1967). And more!

    There will be three required film viewings: Emile de Antonio, *Point of Order* (1964), Warren Beatty, *Reds* (1981), and Brett Morgen, *Chicago 10: Speak Your Piece* (2007).

Grading

    Weekly presentations and seminar paper.

Texts

    The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen
    Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
    The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
    Pity is Not Enough, Josephine Herbst
    The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer
    Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser
    The New Negro, Alain Locke
    Native Son, Richard Wright
    The Big Money, John Dos Passos
    One-Dimensional Man, Herbert Marcuse