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ENG 3620, American Literature II  -  From the Civil War to the Present

Fall  2020     Michael Wutz     MWF 9:30-10:20      CRN 22427         Dual Listing as MENG 5580G / CRN 24199        Wattis Business Building (WB), #206

Office MWF 12:30-1:30,  virtually or in-person, or by appointment, EH #455

COVID Note: please check out periodically Weber State University's Corona-19 update page. As of this moment, our class is scheduled to be an in-person (or F2F = face-to-face) class, but should campus shut down or access to the university become unsafe, we will need to switch to a contingency plan - yet to be announced.


Course Description

This survey-oriented course focuses on American literature from the Civil War to the contemporary period.  Yes, you read that right: we are "covering," if that is the right term, roughly 160 years of fervent literary production in 16 weeks: that is an average of 10 years per week--not bad for a high-speed class!

Kidding aside: this really is a drive-by course that will ask you to buckle up, sit down, and rush with me through a series of literary periods we have come to know as Realism, Modernism, Postmodernism, the contemporary moment, among others--in full recognition that these terms are convenient pigeonholes at best, but do in no way justice to the varied writings being produced in those timeslots. Think of those slots as pragmatic devices invented by literary and cultural historians for the sake of classification & simplification and you get the drift.  If you then, further, factor in that we want to be mindful of the dramatic political and cultural changes that have shaped the literary expressions under discussion here, you realize that we can follow the larger cultural energies of the past 160 years only in the broadest of outlines. American Literature II, like is predecessor, American Literature I (3610), in that sense, cannot be but extremely selective and offer "representative" samples that serve to illustrate certain literary and cultural developments. Yet, one thing is for sure: you will be exposed to a daring and dazzling, brilliant and befuddling, perplexing and puzzling array of writers. Welcome and enjoy!

Useful Links:

  • Please check MAL PAL CAL PAL regularly for useful links to American literature sites, as you prepare for class and research your interests. Many of these sites contain numerous other links. You might also find the (rather skeletal) Theory PAL useful on occasion. — As you find additional sites we should all know about, please let us know.

Texts and Materials

  • The  Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 9th Ed., Vo. II: 1865 to the Present (2017)
  • James M. Cain, Double Indemnity (1936)
  • Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys (2019)
  • Online readings, a film or two, time permitting; optional old-fashioned hardware: a notepad or binder.

Let's Connect!

mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

LebenslaufCurriculum Vitae
Weber – The Contemporary West
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Mailing Address


Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA