My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022: Spring Semester Previews: American Lit II

[A new semester is upon us, so this week I’ll preview texts I’m excited to teach in my Spring 2022 classes. Leading up to a weekend update on my book project in progress!]

On the three books I’m requiring my survey students to purchase (the first time I’ve done so in a couple years), and why.

1)      Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929): The chance to read Nella Larsen’s first two books in full—and to do so in that wonderful hyperlinked edition, edited by my friend Deborah McDowell—is the primary reason why I shifted my thinking about this course this time around, after a few sections where we’ve only read things available online (and only excerpted versions of longer works). Larsen is one of our great authors, these books are both to my mind must-reads (even before the new film adaptation of Passing put that book back on our collective map), and this is the only way we can really read her and them.

2)      Ceremony (1977): Once I had made that shift in my mind, it allowed me the freedom to add back onto the syllabus other longer readings that are not available in full online (because they’re too recent) and not even really excerpted there (for whatever reason). That hyperlinked post is one of many in which I’ve made the case for Leslie Marmon Silko’s book, my second favorite American novel and one that truly needs to be read in full to be understood and appreciated (the favorite section about which I write in that post comes toward the end). I’ll be very glad to share it with a new group of students!

3)      The Namesake (2003): Ceremony is great but hugely challenging, both for students to read and thus for me to teach. So I’ve always loved that my American Lit II syllabus follows that long reading with Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, one of the most readable and teachable works I’ve ever encountered and one that opens up so many themes and threads of identity for our discussions and for student response and writing. I’ve really missed the chance to teach it over these last couple years, and ending the semester with it is once again one of the things I’ll most look forward to this Spring!

Last preview post tomorrow,


PS. What do you think? Spring courses or other work you want to share?

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