For those that don’t know, the syllabus I had designed for an American Lit. survey course got rejected. The reasoning behind that rejection makes sense, and I’ve been told point blank that if I want to teach that same course in the Spring (under a World Literature heading), it’ll happen. But that means I’ve got to put together an entirely new syllabus.
As of this moment, I am thinking about framing this survey course with the loose theme of “American identity.” I want to have as wide an exploration of this question as possible, both to show the breadth of such concerns within American lit and to avoid having too narrow of a focus (i.e., one segment of identity). There are a number of novels, short stories, and plays I am considering for the syllabus, including some that I’ve taught before (such as Black No More by George Schuyler). But I’d like to expand my focus.
This is where you come in. Which novels, short stories, or plays would you suggest for a syllabus loosely concerned with “American identity”? So long as the work is written by someone from the U.S. after 1900, it qualifies. Genres are not relevant, though I always include a little science fiction (sometimes fantasy) in my syllabi (I’m currently thinking about teaching One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak, for example).
So have at it!
(Note: I am interested in canonical work as well as work by various ethnic or minority groups, including African Americans, Native Americans, LGBT folks, refugees (and related categories), women, and so on and so forth. I deliberately write my syllabi to include a range of different groups to show my students that the “canon” is not really a representation of American literature as a whole and that these other literary “groups” are important. Understand that I can’t fit everything in. I feel bad about that every time I teach a survey course. I want to cover every single group imaginable, but I can’t. 16 weeks just isn’t enough time 🙁 ).