Survey Says: My American Lit Course Reading List

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I’ve finally finished my bloody syllabus for the survey in American lit that I will be teaching this fall.  Since some folks expressed interest in what I will be forcing my little college students to read, I’ve compiled the list in no certain order here (mostly chronological, though it may be).  The theme of the course is “labor and race,” though that is loose theme since the course is a survey, not a special topics.  But you’ll notice that the majority of the texts have to do with the working class, the Great Depression, race, Civil Rights, and so on.

Anywho.  Here’s the list:

  • (1901) “Old Rogaum and His Theresa” by Theodore Dreiser
  • (1915) “War Brides” by Marion Craig Wentworth
  • (1918) “Mine Eyes Have Seen” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson
  • (1901) Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (selections)
  • (1926) “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” by Richard Bruce Nugent
  • (1931) Black No More by George Schuyler
  • (1922) “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • (1930) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • (1933) “Miss Lonelyhearts” by Nathanael West
  • (1935) “The Grave” by Katherine Anne Porter
  • (1939) Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato
  • (1955) “The Artificial Nigger” by Flannery O’Connor
  • (1965) “Going to Meet the Man” by James Baldwin
  • (1977) “Advancing Luna–and Ida B. Wells” by Alice Walker
  • (1990) “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World” by Suzan-Lori Parks
  • (1968) “Lost in the Funhouse” by John Barth
  • (1972) “When it Changed” by Joanna Russ
  • (1969) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • (1987) Dawn by Octavia Butler
  • (1973) “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” by James Tiptree, Jr.

Suggestions and thoughts welcome!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.


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