Peter Schmidt's courses
(Also on this page: info on Swarthmore alumni reading group events)
(Courses are listed in reverse chronological order, most recent courses first. See also the Swrthmore College English Literature main webpage.)
English 52A: U.S. Fiction, 1900-1950
English 71D: The Short Story in the U.S.
This will be a large class. We'll use two main paperback texts for this course. 1) Ann Charters' large anthology, The American Short Story and Its Writer (Bedford St. Martins, ISBN-10: 0312191766 + ISBN-13: 978-0312191764) and 2) Rishi Reddi's Kharma and Other Stories (Harper ISBN-10: 0060898828
+ ISBN-13: 978-0060898823). The syllabus for the class will be available in September. The course begins in the early 19th century and covers the 20th century and contemporary short stories.
For an overview (general emphasis and reading list), click above.
English 52B: U.S. Fiction, 1945 to the Present
English 99: Colloquium for Senior English Majors
English 116: Honors Seminar in American Literature
Please join Peter Schmidt for a Swarthmore Alumni Weekend book discussion on Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, which won the American Book Award in 2001). Franzen is an 1981 graduate and taught the fiction writing workshop at the College in 1991; he is also the recent recipient of an honorary degree from the College.
When: Swarthmore College Alumni Weekend, Friday, June 7th, 3pm.
Please read the novel in preparation for our discussion meeting! And (because it's Swarthmore) here's more homework for you:
|New York Area Alumni Reading Group, F2007-S2008|
|Introduction and Overview (download this summary)|
|NY area Alumni readings, 2007-08:||
1. Early twentieth century short stories by Mary Austin, “The Walking Woman” (1907); Sui Sin Far (born Edith Eaton), “Its Wavering Image” (1921); and Anzia Yezierska, “How I Found America” (1920).
Please download these 3 stories by clicking one at a time on each of the 3 links above, then printing these downloaded pdf files from your computer. For a pdf of Study Questions for these 3 stories, click here.
All other readings below are books to buy.
2. George Schuyler, Black No More (1931). Study questions.
3. John Fante, Ask the Dust (1939), and Tomas Rivera, And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1971). Study questions.
4. John Steinbeck, Cannery Row (1945). Study questions.
5. Anita Desai, The Zig-Zag Way (2004). Study questions.
6. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001). Study questions (Word document). Click here instead for a pdf version of the study questions.
7. Gish Jen, The Love Wife (2004). Study questions. (Word document). Click here instead for a pdf version of the study questions.
English 99: Colloquium for Senior Course English majors.
English 53: Modern American Poetry. A survey from Whitman and Dickinson to the present. Offered approximately every other year: see the English Department webpage or office for a schedule of the next 2 years' worth of courses.
English 116: American Literature Honors seminar (featuring important U.S. fiction published from 1990 to the present). Students will read works by Barth, Kingsolver, Franzen, Eugenides, Anita and Kiran Desai, Ozick, Jen, Ondaatje, Pynchon, Shteyngart, Beatty, and Pessl. Offered approximately every other year: see the English Department webpage or office for a schedule of the next 2 years' worth of courses.
English 71B: The Lyric Poem in English. This course provides an introduction to the study of poetry at the college level, covering poets in English from the Middle Ages to the present, along with a few works read in translation. Reading assignments will primarily be from The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry (Ed. Jay Parini); Camille Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn, a collection of essays on some of the most famous poems in English; and Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems. Offered approximately every other year: see the English Department webpage or office for a schedule of the next 2 years' worth of courses.
English 116: American Literature Honors seminar. Reading list similar but not identical to F07.
English 52B-CC, "U.S. Fiction, 1945 to the Present"
TTh 2:40-3:55pm, LPAC 301
A survey of some of the best post-World War II novels and novelists. The reading load will be heavy, the rewards rich. Some works will be excerpted (due to the novel's length and the semester's shortness), but the majority of works will be read in their entirety. Central themes explored will include war, peace, family history, U.S. state power, border-crossings, and identity crises. The tone of the works will vary from tragedy to comedy, satire, and farce. We'll begin with excerpts from Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, and Ellison, Invisible Man. Then we'll read Bellow, Seize the Day; Roth, Ghost Writer; Keroauc, Dharma Bums; Heller, Catch-22 [excepts] ; Percy, The Moviegoer; Robinson, Housekeeping; O'Brien, The Things They Carried; Pynchon, Vineland; Kingsolver, Poisonwood Bible; McCarthy, The Crossing; Kingston, The Fifth Book of Peace; and Beatty, White Boy Shuffle. A Core Curriculum English Literature course, open to all students who have received credit for a Writing (W) course.
English 9H, Portraits of the Artist [First-Year Seminar]
TTh 9:55-11:10am, LPAC 301
A comparative study of artists portrayed in a variety of media and cultures and eras; the course will also serve as an introduction to the study of literature and the humanities at the college level, with a strong emphasis on improving writing and discussion skills. Works studied will include fiction by Joyce, Woolf, and Edgardo Rodríguez Julía, plus plays by Shaffer (Amadeus) and Kushner (Angels in America).
English 71D-CC, The Short Story in the U.S.
TTh 2:40-3:55pm, Hicks 312
Has the U.S. produced such brilliant work in the short story form because it’s a highly mobile and fragmented society, or because it’s highly stratified but pretends it is not? This course will introduce students to classic and contemporary short stories published in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a focus on close reading techniques and the rich variety of moods and styles short stories may explore. We will read 1-2 stories each for most of the writers studied. As well as sampling the work of famous authors such as Poe, James, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Welty, we will consider fascinating but less well known work by Sui Sin Far, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Zora Neale Hurston, and Katherine Anne Porter. There will be a strong emphasis on post-World War II short fiction, probably including representative tales by Bellow, Malamud, Baldwin, Roth, Ozick, Oates, Silko, Cisneros, Hagedorn, and others. A Core Curriculum English course.
Advanced Poetry Workshop
English 5H (Portraits of the Artist)
English 52B (Melville & Pynchon)
English 71B, The Lyric Poem in English
English 85, "Whiteness" and Racial Difference
English 116, American Literature Honors seminar
English 52A, American Prose (Border Crossings)
English 5H, Portraits of the Artist [an intro/PDC course.]
Fall 1999 On Leave. Working on a new book: Briar Patch: Fictions of Race and Nation in the Postwar South, 1866-1916.
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