ENGL 2140: American Literature, Labor & Identity (2017-2019)

Syllabus and Schedule in PDF: Forsberg_2140_Fall2018_Syllabus


Clemson University Fall 2018

ENGL 2140: American Literature

Section# 007 Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9:30A-10:45A, DAN 211

Section# 006 Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11:00A-12:15P, DAN 211



INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jennifer Forsberg

EMAIL: jforsbe [at] clemson.edu

*Please email me directly, not through Canvas

OFFICE: Strode 502

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays & Thursdays

8:00AM-9:15AM and by appointment



This class explores the periods, concepts and themes of American Literature between 1600-1945. Given this large period of time, we will focus on literary texts including the essay, the short story, the novel, poetry and drama and prioritize conversations that relate to the way American literature defines, represents and justifies work, while investigating the dynamic motivations for doing so. This course will include topics that range from the importance of social class to national identity, and examine the varied socio-historical configurations of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality as diverse accounts of the American experience.



The primary objective of sophomore literature classes in the arts and humanities is to provide you with the skills necessary to perform close readings of texts in a variety of genres, including but not limited to poetry, novels, short stories, and plays. By close reading these texts you will not only refine your ability to critically engage with the world, but also enhance your ability to understand diverse rhetorical situations and form substantiated opinions and arguments. Our focus on close reading will make you more confident in your ability to analyze literature (and any kind of text, ideally), as well as write about literature in both formal (e.g., in reading responses, multimedia arguments and exams), and informal ways (e.g., in class discussion, in-class writings, etc.).



  • The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter 8th Edition  (Two Volume Set, Vol. 1 & 2)    ISBN: 978-0393918885
  • Electronic/Web Texts Linked on Canvas. Please Save as a PDF in order to make annotations for reference and class discussion.
  • Laptop computers per classroom task/reading assignment

*Note: many of these texts are available online for free. It is your responsibility to ensure the editions you locate are reliable and correspond to the sections we cover in class discussions and quizzes. Accurate and complete in-text citations and a works cited is required for any and all versions you use in your assignments. If you aren’t sure how to cite your version, visit the Purdue Owl Online.




Our class meetings will help to facilitate your skills in critical writing and close reading and to prepare you for the tasks required of this course. Please attend class on time and when you are prepared to discuss that day’s assigned reading(s). The more classes you attend the better you can expect to do on your writing tasks, midterm exams and quizzes. I will circulate an attendance sheet to ensure you have attended at least half of our class meetings and for administrative records. I do not differentiate between excused or unexcused absences, so use the flexibility of this policy carefully. Students who do not attend the minimum amount of meetings (14 sessions including exams and regardless of add date) may be dropped from the class at the university drop date, or if still enrolled, have their final grade reduced by 15%. It is your responsibility to keep up with how many classes you have attended; I will report where you stand at midterm only.


If you miss important information regarding assignments or exams please check with your peers or look to Canvas for announcements or updates.


Course Disruptions

Any exam scheduled at a time that class is cancelled due to inclement weather will be given at the next class meeting. I will announce all extensions or postponements of assignments or exams via Canvas within 24 hours of the weather related cancellation.


In the event that I am late for class, please check Canvas for an update and wait 10 minutes before dismissing yourself.


Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on “Academic Integrity”: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university. See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/




The Writing Center (307 Academic Success Center building)

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website (http://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/writing/), by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.


Students with Disabilities

It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services to discuss their individualized needs for accommodation. For more information visit http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/index.html


Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).


Technology Requirements

This course requires the use of computer technologies inside and outside of class. You should bring your laptop to class with batteries fully charged. You are expected to use your technology effectively and responsibly. When class tasks do not require a laptop it should be put aside.


Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Strode 502. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of my availability and the help I am ready to offer. Please let me know in advance if you plan to stop by so I can schedule you into my calendar and guarantee you time. I check my email Monday through Friday from 8AM-4PM. You should not expect to hear from me outside of those times and must plan accordingly if you have questions about an upcoming deadline or reading.




Grading System:

Clemson University’s grading system is described in the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Announcements, p. 25-27.  Grades of A, B, C, D, F, I, P, NP and W may be given in accordance with academic regulations. For more information on this grading system, please see the Registrar’s web site at http://www.registrar.clemson.edu/html/finalGrades.htm.


Every point matters. I aim to provide you timely and detailed feedback and opportunities to improve your score throughout the term. For that reason I do not entertain requests to round your final grade at the end of the term, but do have a policy to award students who stand at 69.5, 79.5, 89.5 and above the next letter grade.


Grading Policy

Canvas Grade Book is a helpful tool for keeping watch on your overall grade in real time throughout the course. It is your responsibility to keep up with your grades and contact me if you believe there is has been an error in your earnings. Any concerns must be addressed within 2 weeks of that score’s release.


Due Dates and Late Work Policy

All assignments are due to Canvas the start of class on the due date (per your section) unless otherwise specified. If work is submitted after the deadline it will be considered late and will be worth a maximum of 50% within 24 hours, but will earn no credit after 24 hours. Since we will often discuss quiz results in class, no late quizzes will be accepted.


Any extension must be documented in writing and established in advance of the missed deadline. Early and proactive communication with me about your situation can only help you do well in class. All assigned work may be turned in early for evaluation and/or pre-planned absences.


If you miss an EXAM you must notify me in advance of the examination period or immediately thereafter to re-schedule a time to take it within 1 calendar week (the following Tuesday or Thursday, preferably during office hours). If you know in advance you have a scheduling conflict, please contact me as soon as possible to schedule a time immediately before or after the examination period.


Written Assignments

Writing assignments will be graded on the strength of the argument, the structure in which that argument is conveyed, the use of evidence to support the argument, and the clarity of the essay’s style.  A “C” paper reports, reviews, or summarizes.  A “B” paper makes an argument (in other words, it has a claim and gestures toward a counterargument).  An “A” paper reveals the author’s prior engagement with the issue in the essay, produces a strong, contestable claim, and provides and close-reads textual evidence to persuade the reader of that claim’s viability. A poorly structured attempt to report, review, or summarize is unlikely to get as high as a “C.”  By the same token, an “A” essay not only shows how the essay participates in a pre-existing argument: it must do so with confident self-awareness.


The formal assignments each have their own rubric on Canvas on which you will be graded. Please visit the Assignment Location to see this rubric as you draft and finalize your work and ensure you have met the requirements.


While I am happy to look over sample claims or help you brainstorm via email (no attachments please), I only review drafts in person during office hours. Please plan accordingly if you would like this detailed feedback in advance of our deadlines.



All formal writing should be formatted with 1” margins, be double-spaced, and have a heading that includes your FULL NAME, THE DATE, THE ASSIGNMENT, ENGL2140 and the SECTION/TIME.

Please label your files for uploading carefully and thoughtfully to ensure proper delivery. For example: LastNameFirstNameAssignmentName and be in a .doc or .pdf form.



Revision Policy

Your major assignments will receive thoughtful feedback from me in line comments, rubric comments and submission comments. This feedback is an important to consult in order to improve the quality of your work as well as fully understand the writing process. In that aim, you may revise the Truth essay, but must do so within THREE DAYS (counting weekends and the day returned) from the day it is originally returned. For example, if I return work on Monday AM revisions must be turned in by Wednesday at 11:59PM. No late revisions will be re-graded. Assignments submitted beyond the original deadline will still have the appropriate late penalty deducted from their revised final score.


Quiz Forgiveness

While there is no mathematical equation to calculate how many quizzes may be forgiven, I tend to assess class engagement, student preparation and gauge class discussion around the midterm exams. The greater the effort I see on your behalf as a whole, the more quizzes I am likely to drop via Canvas.



NOTE: ALL assignments must be submitted in an ELECTRONIC format to Canvas with the exception of midterm exams that will be written in class in hard copy.



You will complete reading comprehension quizzes via Canvas for most assigned readings. These quizzes can be taken only once, are open book/open note, and must be completed by the start of your class time on the scheduled date we will discuss the text/author in question. While most quizzes will be multiple choice, I will occasionally include a short response question to help ready you for other course tasks including writing practice. When these question types are assigned I must review and handscore your quiz, so expect your final results to take a few extra days. Please note: late quizzes will not be accepted. Quizzes are worth 18% of your total course grade.


Arguing About the Archive: Truth Essay

Your first paper for this class will be a focused and concise argument that analyzes the Gage and Robinson transcriptions of Sojourner Truth’s speech. You will not simply compare and contrast the speeches, but rather forge an interpretative argument about their overall impact, collective interests and/or political associations in order to contribute a clear statement of significance based on the critical inquiry and analysis of the two versions. Your essay should follow the Booth structure, making claims for each text arguing an original interpretation of each transcription. You must support your argument with quoted evidence, close reading, and provide a focused discussion and analysis. Your essay needs to be in MLA format, include accurate in-text citations and a works cited for full points. Full details and examples are available on Canvas. You will receive thoughtful and timely feedback on your essay so that you may improve your critical reading and writing for future tasks, as well as the revision of this essay. This paper is worth 15% of your total grade.




Midterm Exams

We will have two midterm exams to be completed in class in a full-size blue/green book (at the bookstore). You may (and should try to) use the same book for both exams. Unlike your reading comprehension quizzes, these exams will draw primarily on literary and historical contexts and ask you to reflect on major concepts from lecture. These exams have two parts:

  • Part 1: Identification will ask you to connect important quotes to their Author, the Title of the text, and provide a brief statement of significance (why it is important, telling of a style, concept, etc).
  • Part 2: Short Response will ask you to identify, close-read and explore the importance of key concepts or class conversations based on a short essay response that draws from a selected textual passage and uses that passage as textual evidence to support your argument.

These two midterm exams constitute 25% of your total grade.


In-Class Writing and Critical Practice Tasks

On occasion you will be expected to come to class with an analysis/reading prepared, submit sample claims to Canvas, or prepare for small group analysis. While these tasks are not substantial, they will help ready you for future assignments and aim to ensure that you have familiarity and resources for the tasks in this class. You must be in attendance to earn full credit on these tasks; students who submit this work without attending class can earn no more than 50% credit.

In-class writing and critical tasks are a total of 15% of your grade.


Terkel Literature Circle Reflection

In the final weeks of class we will be reading Working, a journalistic collection of interviews with workers. We will have an assigned common reading for each of the two days we discuss this book, but you will also be responsible for reading an assigned shorter section per your group assignment. These groups, which will follow the model of literature circles, will be responsible for not only providing analysis and significance of the assigned section, but will also submit one formal group reflection of 400 words by Friday, 11/16 @ 11:59PM.

This reflection is worth 5% of your total grade


Multimedia Literary Argument

This assignment asks you to construct a dynamic multimedia argument about any two texts of your choosing from the course (excluding Truth), and a current event/issue article published within the last 12 months (October 2017 to the present). Using the Booth structure in translation for visual presentation, your slides should develop and argue the connection between your 2 course texts and the article. Though you must use textual evidence and include in-text citations and a works cited, this multimedia argument should not be purely textual and needs to be designed thoughtfully with visual, audio and video elements. While you may select the platform of your choice for this assignment, students have historically had the most success with Prezi or Spark (Pages or Video).

The final Multimedia Argument is worth 22% of your total grade. It includes a presentation (6%), peer-review (3%), and final submission (13%).


Important Administrative Dates:

August 28th: Last day to register/add a class

September 4th: Last day to drop/withdraw without a W

October 26th: Last day to drop a class/withdraw without a final grade


Important Examination Dates:

  • September 27th: Midterm One
  • November 15th: Midterm Two

There is no final exam for this class


Course Schedule

Date Reading To Prepare for Class Assignments &

Quizzes Due

Thursday, 8/23

Capital Foundations: Defining Investment(s)

Introduction to class, tasks and topics


In-class reading: Columbus: “Letter to Luis de Santangel

Regarding the First Voyage” (pp. 25-26) and “Letter to

Ferdinand and Isabella Regarding the Fourth Voyage” (pp.


Q: Columbus (practice quiz

in class)


Q: Course Scavenger Hunt (by 11:59PM Fri)


Tuesday, 8/28

Capital Foundations of Exceptionalism: Colonial Work

Smith: “Smith’s Farewell to Virginia” and “A Description of New England” (pp. 68-72)



                                          Tomorrow is the last day to add a class

Q: Smith


D: Annotation Exercise Due to Canvas



Thursday, 8/30


Changes in Colonial America

Knight “The Private Journal of a Journey from Boston to

New York” (pp. 171-177)


Writing in 2140, Booth Structure Introduction


Assign Franklin Area of Focus


Q: Knight





Tuesday, 9/4

Providence and Rationalization: Mobilizing America


Franklin: Autobiography Parts I & 2 (See Canvas Pages for assigned selections)


                 Tomorrow is the last day to drop a class without a W


Q: Franklin


D: Sample Questions and Claims about Franklin Due to Canvas


Thursday, 9/6

Providence and Rationalization: Mobilizing America

Crevécoeur: “Letter III: What Is An American?” (pp. 309-319) Q: Crevecoeur

Tuesday, 9/11


Growing Pains


Irving: “Rip Van Winkle” (pp. 470-482) D: Sample Claim and Close Reading via Adobe Spark due to Canvas

Thursday, 9/13

The Forging of an American Identity: The Laboring Mind


Emerson: “Nature” (pp. 508-512) and “Self-Reliance” (pp.





Q: Emerson

Tuesday, 9/18

Laboring Through the American Autobiography

Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written By Himself (Preface to Ch XIII: pp. 938-968) Q: Douglass

Thursday, 9/20

Laboring Through the American Autobiography


Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An

American Slave, Written By Himself (Ch IX-End: pp. 968-998)


Discuss Truth Essay


D: Sample Claim and Close Reading Due to Canvas


Tuesday, 9/25

Self-Reliance Applied: The Work of Gender in the American Autobiography


Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (select chapters; pp. 819-839)


Midterm 1 Review


Whitman Stanza Assignments


Q: Jacobs



Thursday, 9/27

Exam 1


Midterm 1 (covers all texts to this point)



Tuesday, 10/2

Celebrating the Working Body

Whitman: “Song of Myself” (sections 1-5 pp. 1024-1027)

and “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” (On Canvas Pages)

Q: Whitman


D: Explanation of Stanza with 3 key questions due to Canvas


Thursday, 10/4

Who Gets to Refuse to Work? Protest and Productivity

Thoreau: “Resistance to Civil Government” (843-848 top ¶) and Walden (selections from ‘Economy’ 858-883) Q: Thoreau

Tuesday, 10/9

The Refusal to Work


Melville: “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (pp. 1102-1128)  

Truth Essay Due


Thursday, 10/11

The Aesthetics

of Work


Davis: “Life in the Iron Mills” (pp. 1221-1246)


                                               Midterm Grades Posted Tomorrow


                         (Pages below this point refer to Vol. 2 of the Norton Anthology)


Q: Davis

Tuesday, 10/16

Working for the Community: Debates of Labor Power

Washington: “The Atlanta Exposition Address” (pp. 449-457)

Du Bois: “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” (pp. 533-538)



Q: Washington

Q: Du Bois


Thursday, 10/18

All Work and No Play Makes Carrie a Dull Girl


Dreiser: Sister Carrie (selections; pp. 568-581)




Q: Dreiser

Tuesday, 10/23

Introducing Gender to the 20th Century


Glaspell: Trifles (pp. 743-752)


D: Sample Claim & Close Reading Due to Canvas
Thursday, 10/25

20th Century Foundations of Change

Sa “Impressions of an Indian Childhood (Ch. 1, 2 & 7) (pp. 639-646)


Discuss Multimedia Assignment, Strategies

Poem Assignment for Tuesday, 10/30


     Tomorrow is the last day to drop without a final grade


Q: Sa




Tuesday, 10/30

New Voices for a New Cultural Geography

McKay: “Harlem Dancer” (pp. 926-927) and “America

(pp. 928-9).


Hughes: “Mother to Son” (1039), ”I, Too” (pp. 1039-40) and “Weary Blues” (p. 1040)

D: Prepare explication for assigned poem in Adobe Spark

Thursday, 11/1

Trigger Finger: Gender, Violence and Social Exploration


Wright: “A Man Who Was Almost A Man” (pp. 1060-1069)


Preview of Literature Circle Expectations and the Terkel text


Q: Wright


Tuesday, 11/6: Fall BREAK                              



Thursday, 11/8

Working USA


Terkel: Working (1974)   <<online>> Common Reading Day 1: Introduction (xiii-xxx).

·   See Canvas Pages for Literature Circle Section Assignments


Q: Terkel 1

Tuesday, 11/13

Working USA


Terkel: Working (1974) Common Reading Day 2: Reflections on Idleness and Retirement (552-570).

·   See Canvas Pages for Literature Circle Section Assignments


Midterm 2 Review; Sign up for Conferences on 11/20

Q: Terkel 2




Thursday, 11/15

Exam 2


Midterm 2

(covers all texts after Midterm 1 to this point)


Terkel Literature Group Reflections Due by Friday 11/16 @ 11:59PM

Tuesday, 11/20




Student Conferences on Multimedia Literary Argument:

Meet with me in lieu of our regular class time to get questions answered, brainstorm ideas or strategize an organizational method for your project.


Thursday, 11/22: Thanksgiving Holiday

Tuesday, 11/27




Colloquium Workshop Day

Come to class prepared to discuss:

Current event/issue article, Course texts

Overall argument, Multimedia incorporation

Brainstorm and work on colloquium presentations/

multimedia argument


Thursday, 11/29



Colloquium: Panels A & B Present; Audience: Peer Review on Canvas Discussions (at the end of each panel) Post feedback;

Finalize projects based on feedback

Tuesday, 12/4



Colloquium: Panels C & D Present; Audience: Peer Review on Canvas Discussions (at the end of each panel) Post feedback;

Finalize projects based on feedback

Thursday, 12/6



Colloquium: Panels E & F Present; Audience: Peer Review on Canvas Discussions (at the end of each panel) Post feedback;

Finalize projects based on feedback

Multimedia Literary Argument Due to Canvas by Friday, 12/7 @ 11:59PM