Weekly Writing due Nov. 12, 8pm

PROMPT: Choose one text offered by another student from the collective syllabus that you feel attracted to and might want to work with as we move forward. Familiarize yourself with it a bit. For this post, write a short paragraph that does the following: 1) discusses what attracts you to this particular text, and 2) asks a question you have about how to understand the text. Essentially, in this post, I want you to identify a text you can see yourself writing about and explore it a bit.


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Weekly Writing due Oct. 15, 8pm

PROMPT: What’s a cultural idea that you associate very closely with the word “American”? Beyond “existing within the political borders of the U.S.,” what’s one concept or value that is attached to the word “American”? You can choose anything from liberty, to diversity, to capitalism, to excess, to individualism, to privilege, or anything else that you closely associate with America as an idea.Where do you see that concept playing out in some aspect of your own life?

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Class in Kings Hall 202 Today

Hi guys –

Just a reminder that we’ll be having class in King Hall 202 today for our screening of Get Out. If you’ve never been there before, King Hall is in the same complex of buildings as our class in Rathaus, which you can see from the map below.


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Hernandez Bros. Interview, 1988

Hi guys – today we’re talking about Love & Rockets, which is an ’80s comic that deals with all kinds of stuff, among it the punk scene / latinx culture in LA at the time. I’m attaching this interview with the artists/creators, the Hernandez Bros., because I think it gives lots of insight into the the way the comic interacted with & came out of those cultures. The interview is long & exhaustive, so you probably won’t read the whole thing – but if anyone is interested in working with the comic this semester, you could [command+f] (or whatever the PC version of “find” is) the aspect of the comic you’re looking at (“punk,” “sexuality,” “Mexico,” or whatever else you’re interested in) and learn a lot about how that played a role for the creators.


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Unit 3 Presentation Group Members

Hi all – If you weren’t in class today & don’t know, I had everyone sign up for the presentation group they wanted to be part of in the final unit of the semester. If you weren’t here or didn’t sign up, I assigned you to an empty slot in a group. I am posting the groups and their members here so that you can come back and remind yourself of which group you’re in when the time comes.


Group 1: “Greatness” as “Universal”, on Thursday, November 15

Members: Mark Zink, Kayla Nieves, Ana Castaneda, Daron Greene, Alex Bangiyev


Group 2: “Greatness” as Revealing the World – Representing and Reflecting Culture, History, and Ideology, on Tuesday, November 27

Members: Carolyn Schwerd, Reyna Ramirez, Rebecca Hecht, Chris Ham, Emily Giardina


Group 3: “Greatness” as Influencing or Affecting Culture, on Thursday, November 29

Members: Anthony Lombardo, Miriam Fried, Raquel Ortiz, Aashmattie Harilal, Arben Mehovic


Group 4: “Greatness” as Stylistic Mastery, on Tuesday, December 4

Members: Anowar Dedar, Azriel Goldman, Wai Yan Phyo Hein, Dominick Lapera, Vanessa Weigman


Group 5: “Greatness as Enduring through Time, on Tuesday, December 11

Members: Siwei Xu, YaWen Wu, Xiao Ding, Nicole Zweiter

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Weekly Writing Due Sep. 24, 8pm

PROMPT: Imagine if we were to take Invisible Man as THE standard of what a “literary” work should look like. What might that mean? What seems to be an important feature or virtue of this text that someone who assigns it seems to value? What’s a specific detail or moment in the text that illustrates your point?

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Ralph Ellison & The Great American Novel

Hi guys! Just wanted to make sure that as you come to post your weekly writings for Thursday that you remember we are also going to be talking about the prologue to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man – that’s a text that is canonical to the extent that it’s often considered one of the contenders for “The Great American Novel.” I think this is right & deserved – it’s one of my favorite books ever. But I just wanted to give you a couple of things to look at (if you’re interested – not at all required) that might contextualize the book and give you a sense of how people discuss it, especially since we’re only looking at a tiny slice of the novel. Here are some pieces:




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Weekly Writing Due Sep. 19, 8pm

PROMPT: Whichever “criterion” for what makes a “Great Work of American Literature” you plan to address in your first essay (from the list on the assignment sheet, included again below), use this post to draft a working definition for it. The first assignment asks you to make it clear how you understand the criterion – in this post you can develop that material, which you can then revise and use in the essay itself. Talk about what you think is meant by the criterion, and think about the reasons English professors might place value on it. You may be delving into a realm of speculation here, but that’s OK – we’re just beginning to develop our discussions and critiques of these values, and at this early stage you should feel free to explore your impulses.

Here are the criteria again: “The work should be considered a ‘great work’ if it…”

  • …speaks to a “universal” human experience
  • …reflects American culture/life
  • …has affected American culture/life
  • …is a work of stylistic mastery/beauty
  • …has endured through time and remained relevant
  • …represents a uniquely “American” voice/tradition
  • …shows the American experience in its diversity
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Literary Canon & How Profs Talk about It

Hi guys – this is Prof. Myles Chilton talking about the whiteness of the American literary canon, which is something we’re going to be discussing today. We’ll be dealing with our own experiences of this tradition, but if you want to listen in to Chilton you will hear more about how literature professors talk about this stuff.

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