An intensive introduction to American literature in the Depression decade. Readings will include canonical texts, among them The Big Money, The Grapes of Wrath, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Good Earth, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Absalom! Absalom!, Native Son, and Proletarian Literature in the United States.
The questions we shall discuss will include: the meaning of ideology and the relation of economic circumstance to aesthetic values; the social and political responsibility of the writer; the role of women in society and culture; the gains and losses that are entailed in the organizing literary study by politically defined periods (e.g., "the thirties").
Requirements: Working in pairs and small groups, each student will 1) present one or two brief bibliographical reports, 2) prepare brief reports on some key historical and literary texts, and 3) construct one or two lesson plans for each primary text. 4) Each student will report on one or two of the major magazines published in the 1930's. Finally, 5) each
student will complete a research essay (fifteen or so pages), due at the end of the semester.