Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

ENGL 242: American Literature II

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  Course Description

Survey of American literature from 1865 to the contemporary period.

Prerequisite: ENGL 112

Proctored Exams: Midterm



  • Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Package 2: Volumes C, D, and E. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2012.  
    • ISBN-978-0-393-91310-1.

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

The objectives of this course are to introduce you to “the second half” of American literature.  You will gain an increased knowledge and comprehension of the art forms, themes, and values that make up the literary part of the American cultural heritage, focusing on the age of Realism in American writing.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the periods of American literary history from Realism through the contemporary period.
  2. Identify major and some minor authors of these periods.
  3. Explain historical and cultural contexts of literary works.
  4. Write argumentatively about literary works.
  5. Apply the terminology of literary study to interpret works in multiple genres.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 720-800 90-100%
B 640-719 80-89%
C 560-639 70-79%
D 480-559 60-69%
F 0-479 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussion 150 19%
Essays 500 62%
Midterm Exam 150 19%
Total 800 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 10 Sunday
Discussion 2 10

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Sunday
Discussion 4 10
Essay 1 100
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Sunday
Discussion 6 10
Essay 2 100

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Sunday
Discussion 8 10
Midterm Exam 150

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 10 Sunday
Discussion 10 10
Essay 3 100

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Sunday
Discussion 12 10

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Sunday
Discussion 14 10

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Essay 4 200 Thursday
Discussion 15 10 Saturday
Total Points: 800

  Assignment Overview


Discussion postings should be completed by their respective deadlines (Sunday at midnight) of each week.  Collectively, discussion postings amount to approximately 20% of the student’s final grade, and they will be graded according to the rubric below.  Students must do more than simply post their own comments/answers in the discussion area.  They must also read the posts of their colleagues and of their instructor and respond to at least two of their classmates’ posts. 


Essays 1-3 are worth 100 points each; Essay 4 is worth 200 points, assigned on the basis of percent of analytical and critical thinking skills, completeness, correct spelling, correct formatting and citations, and neatness.

Midterm Exam

You will have one proctored exam, a midterm worth 150 points, during Week 4. You must arrange an acceptable proctor and submit your proctor information to the Proctor Dropbox by the end of Week 2. The midterm exam will consist of an essay question (graded according to the same criteria as our Dropbox Assignment Essays). You will have ample time to prepare for the exam in the week prior. See more information about proctored exams in the Course Policies section below.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


All numbers refer to pages in The Norton Anthology.
Volume C Introduction: 3-19

  • Twain, C 118-25
  • Bierce, C 398-405
  • Charlot, C 414-17
  • Henry James, C 417-20, 460-77
Discussion 1

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" thread of our class Discussion, our "virtual classroom.”  Please give us more than your name.  Include your profession, family, hobbies, interests, and any other information that can help us get to know you.  By Saturday, try to have responded to two postings.

Discussion 2

Compare and contrast Mark Twain and Henry James as Realists. Among the characters in “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and “The Real Thing,” does one in each story seem to represent the Realist, or Insider, perspective? If so, who and how do they represent that perspective?

  • Jewett, C 525-33
  • Chopin, C 550-51, 557-61
  • Washington, C 673-75, 685-97
  • Gilman, C 790-803
  • Crane, C 943-46, 990-1006
  • London, C 1042-43, 1047-58
  • Ghost Dance Songs & Wovoka, C 1119-26
Discussion 3

Consider the main female characters in Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron,” Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper.” In your opinion, which of the three is the most effective character? Specify two or three criteria by which you judge characters.

Discussion 4

Many readers consider Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” to be one of the greatest short stories ever. Do you agree or disagree? Be sure to analyze character and theme in your answer.

Essay 1

In an essay of approximately 750 words, define Realism as you understand it.  Then, choose two assigned works—one from Week 1 and one from Week 2—that fit your definition of Realism.  Analyze and evaluate your two works emphasizing character, theme and values, especially as they embody Realism.  Remember to keep summary to a minimum.  Instead, develop and support your ideas with at least one key passage from each of your works, documented in MLA style.  If you choose a work or works you have mentioned in Discussion, please take care not to repeat yourself.  Two hints for your introductory paragraph:

  1. Identify your works by author and title.
  2. If you set up Work A and Work B in your introduction, follow that A-B pattern throughout your essay.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
  • Adams, C 386-87, 390-97

Volume D Introduction: 3-22

  • Robinson, D 40-44
  • Frost, D 230-31, 232-33, 240-42, 245-48
  • Anderson, D 263-64, 274-78
  • Stevens, D 281-84, 285-89
  • William Carlos Williams, D 302-06, 309, 311 (“The Dance”), 313
Discussion 5

We all lived through the last part of the twentieth century. Henry Adams was present at its beginning. The dynamo both impressed and frightened him; and he worried that the new century might come to worship power and force. Was he right? Why or why not? Your response should clearly and specifically reference the selection from Adams.

Discussion 6
Both E. Robinson’s “Mr. Flood’s Party” and Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” feature men alone, outside, at night. Do you find that the two poems also share a common theme? Why or why not?
Essay 2

Review our assigned poems by Robert Frost and choose your favorite.  In an essay of approximately 750 words, analyze and evaluate your poem, trying to convince your reader that it is truly a great work of literature.  Again, keep paraphrase to a minimum.  Quote and develop at least two key passages from your poem, documented in MLA style.  Again, do not repeat yourself from Discussion.  As always, emphasize character, theme and values in your essay.  Remember, too, that the speaker of a poem counts as a character, not as the poet, however tempted we may be to equate the two.

  • Pound, D 314-16, 318 (“Station of the Metro”), 320-3
  • Eliot, D 365-71, 395-99
  • Hurston, D 528-30, 538-49
  • Cummings, D 636-37, 640 (“Buffalo Bill’s”), 646
  • Fitzgerald, D 658-59, 675-89
  • Hemingway, D 824-42
  • Steinbeck, D 881-92
Discussion 7

We could label the works of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot as Poetry with Footnotes. Referring to one poem by each writer, how do you respond to their poetry? Do you find it stimulating, forbidding, boring or what?

Discussion 8

Pair Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Gilded Six-Bits” with either F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” or Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Briefly identify an important theme in each story; then discuss which theme is more important to you as a person, not just as a student of literature.

Midterm Exam

You will find the Midterm Exam in the Quizzes area. This is a proctored exam: you will not be able to bring textbooks or notes into the exam environment. It will be available beginning Tuesday and must be completed by Sunday as coordinated with your proctor. You will have ample time to prepare for the exam in the week prior. However, you will be allowed no more than two hours to complete the exam in the Quizzes area.

  • Wright, D 898-907

Volume E Introduction: 3-19

  • Welty, E 50-61
  • Ellison, E 206-24
  • Bellow, E 225-35
Discussion 9

How is Dave, in Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Was Almost a Man,” like Eudora Welty’s petrified man? How are they different?

Discussion 10

We usually think of characters in literature as human beings only. However, other possibilities exist; animals, for example. Sometimes even setting can function as a character, as the sea does in Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat.” Can we consider the city of Chicago to be a character in Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March? Why or why not?

Essay 3

Readers, teachers and critics have often noted that great literature is timeless, that if it deeply touches the human heart and spirit, it can last forever.  In your opinion, is Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman such a timeless work of literature?  More specifically, concentrate on one of these two important themes from the play—the American Dream or parents and children—to develop and support your opinion.  In an essay of approximately 750 words, argue that Death of a Salesman is or is not a timeless work of literature. 

Quote and develop at least two key passages, documented in MLA style.  You may also use your personal experience to support your opinion, but subordinate the personal material to your analysis and evaluation of Miller’s play.

  • Baldwin, E 423-36
  • Morrison, E 608-23
  • Carver, E 736-47
  • Walker, E 920-27
  • Erdrich, E 1139-40, 1143-52
  • Powers, E 1200-07
Discussion 11

Which Long Work have you chosen for Essay 4? Tell everyone, briefly, how you plan to handle your subject. Mention at least one main character and one important theme. If you have questions about your Long Work, ask away.

Discussion 12

We’ve read two very powerful stories this week, James Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man” and Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral.” In both stories, the main characters come to an important realization. Briefly, what do they realize and do their realizations have anything in common?

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
  • Roethke, E 37-38, 42 (“My Papa’s Waltz”), 47-49
  • Bishop, E 71-72, 73-75, 83-85
  • Lowell, E 303-06, 320-22
  • Wright, E 547-50
  • Rich, E 566-68, 573-76
Discussion 13

In your opinion, is Theodore Roethke’s “I Knew a Woman” a sincere tribute to the woman, or a sexist insult? Quote a line or two from the poem to support your opinion.

Discussion 14

Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead” is concerned with American history. In “Diving into the Wreck,” Adrienne Rich’s speaker is concerned with “the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth” (62-63). What light do these two poems shed on the idea of “true” history—“the thing itself.” Be specific and cite at least one of the two poems.

  • Harper, E 763-67
  • Lee, E 1165-69
  • Dove, E 1102, 1108-12
  • Song, E 1158-62
Essay 4

In an essay of at least 1500 words, analyze and evaluate your chosen Long Work from the following list:

  • Mark Twain.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  (C 130-309).
  • Kate Chopin.  The Awakening.  (C 561-652).
  • Willa Cather.  My Antonia. (D 47-181)
  • William Faulkner.  As I Lay Dying.  (D 698-793).
  • Tennessee Williams.  A Streetcar Named Desire.  (E 90-155)
  • August Wilson.  Fences.  (E 927-75)

Emphasize character, theme and values. The possibilities are nearly endless; just be sure to keep the work of literature itself at the heart of your essay.

Also, do not try to “cover” the entire work. That can lead to excessive summary. Say, for example, you want to compare key passages from Chapter 1 and Chapter 17. Should you summarize Chapters 2-16? No. Instead, write a brief transition that allows you to move from Chapter 1 to Chapter 17. Quote and develop at least four or five key passages, documenting them in MLA style.

This is not a research paper. Rather it will be an expression of your good ideas, opinions, and growing confidence as a reader of American literature and your chosen Long Work. As always, follow the organization you establish in your introduction.

Discussion 15

Of our contemporary poems this week, which one tells you the most about how we live today?  Or, think of it this way: If you could put only one of these poems in a time capsule, to be opened 500 years from now, which would you choose?  Why?

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

I will consider other late assignments if the student contacts me by email to explain the reason for lateness.  Do not contact me by phone about late assignments; we need an e-mail trail.  There will be a point penalty of no less than 10 percent for assignments submitted over two weeks late. In rare cases, I may make exceptions to that policy.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.