American Literary History & Culture



Semester: Spring 2010-2011

Course Number: 171/53

Course Title: American Literary History & Culture

Time: MW 11:00-12:15

Place: Kaifan 208

Final Exam: 9 June, 3:30-5:30


Teacher: Hanan Muzaffar

Office Hours: MW 12:30-1:30


Contact Information:


    Mobile: 9989-3734


Course Description:

A survey of the history and development of American literature in its historical, social, and cultural contexts, from the Colonial times, to the Puritans, and all the way to the late 20th century. Emphasis to be given on the manner in which the texts reflect currents of social and cultural change in the United States.



Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5 Volumes. 6th & 7th ed. NY: Norton, 2007.


Course Requirements/Grades:

10% In-Class Participation

You are expected to attend regularly and be an active member in class, participating every day to enrich our classroom discussions. You will not be judged for your opinions but will be expected to come to class everyday prepared with your reactions, questions and comments on the assigned readings.

10% Presentation

Present the text to be covered on that day in around 10 minutes. Your presentation should introduce the classmates to the writer we are discussing on the day, and brief information on the text itself covering plot, theme, figures of speech, relation to age, and any other necessary information. Prepare a one page handout in the form of bullet points including the main points you presented to be handed to your colleagues in class. Allow around 5 minutes after your presentation for discussion or interaction. Email me your outline as an attachment. You are not allowed to use this work for your personal response.

Click here for sample presentation outline on Bradstreet

20% Responses&Quizzes

You must submit 5 personal responses of two pages each (600-800 words) throughout the course. Choose at least one work of literature from each volume, according to what's listed in the syllabus. Make your own choice based on what work appeals to you, but remember to submit your response before we discuss that work in class. I will choose the best of each set as your grade. These will be personal interactions to the assigned readings, not a summary of what you read. Feel free to comment, argue, and relate what you read to other material or ideas. Follow paper writing guidelines in website. Send as email attachment. You are not allowed to send a response to a text you are presenting.

At the end of each volume, I will be testing you on the material in that volume through in-class 10 minute quizzes. These will be very short questions that test your knowledge of American history and author's biographies (including brief questions of title and content of works studied in class)

10% Final Paper (due 1 June)

Write a 4 page (around 1400 words) paper analyzing a work of American literature from any of the volumes assigned for class, but for an author not presented in class. Unlike the personal responses, this is an academic paper where your personal feelings and reaction are not welcome, and in which you argue for a certain point found within your choice of literature, supported by research done on that work. Refer to the Writer's Guide found in your course's main webpage for further instructions on writing these papers. Send as email attachment.

20% Midterm Exam (18 April)

The exam will be made of two parts.

Part one: Choose 5 questions to answer in 1-3 sentences each.

part two: Choose one question to answer in the form of an essay of 2 pages, double-spaced.

30% Final Exam (9 June, 3:30-5:30)

This follows the same pattern of the midterm exam, with 2 essays instead of one.


Forum Participation:

I keep a forum ( for out of class discussions and questions. You will be sent a username and password as soon as you send me your contact information. Once you are registered in the forum, you can either start your own topic, related to class content, or follow other topics started by your colleagues. This is meant to allow you an online space through which you can share ideas and discuss issues relevant to our class. Participation in the forum is optional, but you are to keep your participation only to issues related to class, and in proper academic English.


Writing Skills:

Avoid Plagiarism: You plagiarize when you present any information in your paper that is not yours without properly referencing it. Whether that information is quoted directly, paraphrased, or summarized, you have to follow it with parenthetical references immediately, not just list the source at the end of the paper. Your first attempt at plagiarizing will earn you a zero for that assignment. If you plagiarize again, you will earn an F for the course.

All written material (responses and research paper) should be typed using font size 12 Arial, double-spaced, on A4 size papers with 1" margins on each side.

Your name, teacher's name, course title and number, and date should appear on the left-hand side of the paper. The title should be centered under that, using the same size font.

Save the file as a word document and send to my email ( by the due date.

Click here to download a paper template with the correct format. Delete the Works Cited page if not needed.



The teacher reserves the right to make changes in the division of grades and syllabus. You will be notified of such changes in due time. 

And finally, I hope we all have fun and enjoy what we’re reading. My aim is for you to leave class wanting to read more, and being able to do so with more of a critical eye. But most of all enjoy reading.