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English 166 Emery C. Mollenhauer, FSC

Fall 1999 Olney 167 --- 951 –1169



San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge


Our aim is to explore the American dream as it is reflected in readings in American literature from the late seventeenth century to the present. By the fourth week of the fifteen week semester, we will be considering twentieth century dreams and nightmares in American literature; obviously, then, our focus will be primarily on contemporary American literature.

We will feature close reading of poetry, short stores, a novel, and two plays, which reflect the aspirations and disillusionments of our nation. Our survey of the American dream will include discussion of ideas, ideals, and values of American society as represented in well-recognized works of literature. Like other English courses at La Salle, this course will also be directed toward improving students’ critical reading, writing, and thinking skills.



"The Heath Introduction to Literature," John Clayton, Editor, paperback.

"The Mentor Book of American Poets," O. Williams and E. Honig, Editors, Dutton paperback.

"White Noise," Don Dillo, Viking-Penguin paperback.

True West," Sam Shepard, Sam French paperback.


( Eugene O’Neill’s "Desire under the Elms," a play that "presents a tidy synopsis of the forces that have guided American development ever since the arrival of the first Puritan settlers," is also on our syllabus. In order to lessen students’ book bills,amno requiring that a copy of that play be purchased. We have at least eight copies of the play in the library (cf. PS3529.N5 and PS634G32), and, of course, your local library, as well as Barnes and Noble and Borders book stores, can provide a copy of the play. (Note, however, that this play is published with other O’Neill plays, so check the table of contents in publications of O’Neill’s plays.) This play is also available in a number of freshman anthologies. Additionally, I have eight anthologies which include this play, and, if necessary, you may borrow one of those anthologies.)


Course Requirements:




There will, of course, be a final examination; we MAY also have occasional unannounced quizzes if students appears not to be doing the assigned reading.

  Library of Congress, DC

N.B.: You cannot do a presentation and an analysis on the same poem, story, or play.



Grading: "Victory," Augustus St. Gaudens, 1912, The Met, NYC


In-class examinations……….…………………………………30

Final examination………………………………………………… 25

Paper………………………………………………………………… 12

Presentations (8), analyses (16), participation (9)…..……………… 33



 Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat"

Syllabus: Empire State Bldg. from the Village

N.B.: This syllabus is intended as a guideline. Because the amount of class time we will spend on individual works will vary, it is almost inevitable that we will not be able to follow this syllabus precisely. Since I review forthcoming assignments at the beginning of each class and also take questions at that time about assignments, I trust that no one will be confused or upset because of time adjustments related to readings or other assignments.


("M" indicates the Mentor poetry text and "H" the Heath short story text.)


Week of August 30:

Objectives of course


M text "Am I Thy Gold," 30, "Housewifery," 29, "Concord Hymn," 44, "Hymn to the Night," 64, "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport," 6


Week of September 7:

"A Psalm of Life," (handout); M: "To Helen,"93, "Song of Myself, 116 (1) and 119(5)

"When Lilacs…." 3 172; H: "Young Goodman Brown,"3 64


 Longfellow, Poe, Hawthorne, and Whitman


Week of September 13:

H: "Desiree’s Baby," 197, , "The Open Boat," ü 230; M –E. Dickinson Poems – presentation on two "approved" D : poems**: "Success is…." 186, "I taste…." 188, "I felt…"3 189


. "The Championship Sculler," Thomas Eakins, 1871, YThe Met, NYC

  Explanation of firs-*t paper


Week of Setpember 20:

M: A Bird came …3 . 192, "Because I could…" 3 199; H: "The Yellow Wallpaper," **217; M: "My Flood’s Party," ** 220, "Eros Tyrannos," 3 219, "Mending Wall," 3 235, "After Apple Picking," ** 236, "Birches" ü 238



Week of September 27:

H: "A Rose for Emily," ** 426, "The Jilting….," 3 459, "The Chrysanthemums," **468, "A Worn Path," ü 478


Week of October 4 First Examination  

M: "Sunday Morning" **

279 ; Eugene O’Neill’s "Desire under the Elms. **

(At least two groups of 2 can do a presentations on either of the two plays or the one novel on the syllabus, as long as the focuses of the presentations are different. E.g., one might focus on characterization, another on themes, another on style, another on plot, etc.)


Week of October 11:

"Desire under the Elms"; H: "The Lottery," 3 486



Week of October 18:

H: "Sonny’s Blues…" ** 558; M: "By the Road…" 3 325; H: "The Country Husband," 3 495

"I Stand Here…" 3 583

 Week of October 27: Brooklyn Bridge

H: "The Magic Barrel," ** 515, "Everyday Use,"3 652; M: "The Bridge," 464





Week of November 1:

Cummings ** = Presentation OK for any approved 2 of Cummings’s poems: "in time of…" 450, "i sing of olaf.." ü 457, "next to, of course," 459;

H: "Lost in the Funhouse," ** 618



Week of November 8:

H: Separating,"4 699, "Cathedral," ** 757 BarthUpdike


Second examination – content of "White Noise" included in exam.


  Di Lillo Mason


Week of November 15:

H: "Shiloh," 779  

"White Noise" **



Week of November 22:


"White Noise"


H: "The Man I Killed, **839," "The Lives of the Dead," 4 843



Week of November 29:


"True West" ** O'BrienShepard



Week of December 6:


Contemporary poems, copies of which will be distributed:

Ginsberg:"A Supermarket in California" 3

Lowell: "Skunk Hour" **

"O’Hara: "The Day Lady Died"3

Wright: "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio" **

Merwin: "The Drunk in the Furnace"3

Jarrell: "The Woman in the Washington Zoo"








  1. Fall 1999: ASSIGNMENTS


  1. Group Presentations:
  2. Presentations of about fifteen minutes will be featured throughout the semester. Four options in order of preference should be submitted in writing by September 7. If you have a preference for a partner, please note that preference when submitting your options.


    Note: More than one poem/story/play listed during the same week immediately below means simply that there MAY be two or three different/separate presentations that week.

     The Schuylkill at Fairmount Park

    Week of September 13: The Open Boat" …………..Two Dickinson poems


    Week of September 20: "My Flood’s Party"……………"Mending Wall"……"Birches"


    Week of September 27: "A Rose for Emily" ……………."The Chrysanthemums"


    Week of October 4: "Sunday Morning"


    Week of October 11: "Desire under the Elms:


    Week of October 18: "Sonny’s Blues"

    Week of October 27: "The Magic Barrel"


    Week of November 1: Two Cummings’ poems……………"Lost in the Funhouse"


    Week of November 8: "Cathedral"


    Week of November 15: "White Noise"


    Week of November 22: "The Man I Killed"


    Week of November 29: "True West"


    Week of December 6: "Skunk Hour"…………………."Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio"


    Groups will meet in class to divide the workload and to arrange a longer meeting out of class to rehearse the presentation. Presentations should include two or three minutes of SIGNIFICANT biographical information, solid comments on recurring themes in the work of the author, characteristics of style, and (for about half the total time of the presentation) a close reading of the chosen work.


    A week after the presentation, submit a summary (about eighty words) that features information on preparation for the presentation, specifics on what each contributed, and any recommendation on the process.


    Vermont Pond 

  3. Analyses:
  4. You are expected to do four brief (about 700 words) analyses of specific readings. - Three of these are due before the mid-semester break and, each analysis must be submitted before we review the individual work in class. In writing your analyses, focus on one or two aspects of the work; do not merely summarize the narrative element.


    Possible Subjects for the three analyses due before November:

    "When Lilacs…" M 172

    "Young Goodman Brown," H 64

    "The Open Boat," H 230

    "I felt a funeral…" M189 Possible Subjects for analyses after November:

    "A bird came down…" M192 "I Stand Here Ironing" H 5583

    "Because I could not…" M199 "Everyday Use" H 652

    "Eros Tyrannos" M219 "I Sing of Olaf" M 457

    "Mending Wall" M 235 "The Lives of the Dead" H843

    "Birches" M 238 "A Supermarket in CA" -TBD

    "The Jilting…" H 459 "The Day Lady Died" TBD

    "A Worn Path" H 478 "The Drunk in the Furnace" TBD

    "The Lottery" H486

    "By the Road…" M325

    "The Country Husband" H 495



  5. Short Paper: A short paper of 3 to 4 pages on a character or theme in "White Noise" will be due the week of November 22. This paper will be discussed approximately three weeks before it is due. The first 140 words of the paper will be due in triplicate during the week of November 8.



     San Francisco-Oakland (Bay) Bridge