English 481: Popular Then/Classic Now: Advanced Study in American Authors, 1865-1940


In the short space of sixteen weeks, we cannot cover all the topics of interest to the student of this period of American literature.  To present information on some of the topics not covered otherwise, students choosing this option will prepare a short (5-7 minute) oral presentation on one of the topics listed below.

You'll also prepare a one-page "fact sheet" to hand out to the class. This may take the form of an outline, summaries of critical articles, or a synopsis of your argument. You should include at least one critical article or book in preparing your report, and your fact sheet should provide a brief bibliography of the works you consulted.

Your presentation may focus on something you wish to work on for your paper. You may also want to work on one of the following:

  • Presentation about the popular reception of an author in his or her own time. What did the reviews say? What did the reviewers like or dislike? Why was this author popular?
  • Additional information about the social, intellectual, artistic, scientific, philosophical, or historical contexts for the works and authors assigned in class.
  • Interpretations of works or aspects of a work not read in class.
  • Introductions to authors not specifically covered in the course.
  • Discussion of one or more critical works relating to the era.
  • Background about the social and intellectual connections among certain groups of authors.
  • The evaluation of your report will be based on the criteria found on the Report Evaluation Form (http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/reportrubric.pdf).

    If you complete the report AND the weblog assignment, you do not have to take Exam 2.

    Report Topics

    Note: These are suggested topics. You can choose to write in a different topic from the suggested one when you sign up for the report.

    Date Topic Presenter
    1/31 Regionalism and Dialect Literature  
      Regional humor and its popularity Talon Seiler
      Women's humor (Marietta Holley, etc.) Carmen Nugent
      African American stories  
      Chesnutt's novels Chris Kiick
      Open Topic  
    2/28 Naturalism and Western Writing  
      The Western novel (The Virginian, etc.) Amanda Renslow
      Jack London in the marketplace Taylor Armstrong
      Frost's contemporaries (Edwin Arlington Robinson, etc.) Ryan Carli
      Oscar Micheaux (African American filmmaker and writer)  
      Open topic  
    3/20 Edith Wharton  
      Edith Wharton: early reputation Stefanie Eggers
      Edith Wharton's Social World Kristen Parton
      Edith Wharton's popularity today (Gossip Girl, "chick lit," etc.)  
      Open topic Brittany Hutchinson
      Open topic  
    4/3 Fitzgerald and Hemingway  
      Fitzgerald's early popularity Haley Hamilton
      Hemingway in the news (1920s-1950s) Christine Sweet
      Neglected Hemingway (or Fitzgerald)  
      Open topic Ashina Sipiora
      Open topic