Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Welcome to MSU Students' weblogs!

To Whom It May Concern:

I am proud to post here the links to my students' weblogs where they introduce themselves and the topic of their research. Please feel free to ask them questions, comment on their project work, and encourage them in their endeavor.

Group 1 (Sasha, Nelly, Olga K., Oksana) has embarked on a challenging journey of exploring the literary heritage of American writers, winners of Nobel Prize in Literature.

Group 2 (KOALas:) = Kate, Olga S., Lena, Anna) is tackling Tennessee Williams' plays. Their topic is "Outcasts in the Plays of Tennessee Williams" and they have taken his most famous plays (A Streetcar Named Desire,The Glass Menagerie, The Night of the Iguana, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof).

Group 3 (Sveta, Lilya, Nelly) will delve into the character of Randel McMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey and will try to figure out what he represents.

Group 4 (Roman) It's an individual project so far. Roman is doing research on social satire in Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

Group 5 (Sasha and Ilya) have decided to explore the concept of the American Dream.

To my students: It would be great to post your group's photo here. Could you please send me one?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Assignment for March 1 (William Faulkner)

Dear Students:
This coming Thursday, we'll be talking about William Faulkner.
Click the following link http://ifolder.ru/1214008 to download the story “Dry September” by W. Faulkner that we'll be discussing in class.
For questions about settings and theme go to SAL p.20-21.
Please post on your group weblog how and why your group decided on your project's topic.
I am looking forward to seeing Sasha's and Ilya's blog and reading Nelly's and Oksana's profiles.

Image Source: www.themodernword.com/scriptorium/faulkner.jpg

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Some Technical Issues

Last week we talked about the problems that arise when different members of the group try to access the blog. Actually, there is a better solution than to do some instant messaging (eg. ICQ) and negotiating the time of your login.

To those who aren't blog wizards yet, I would recommend to study troubleshooting tips on

Here is the link to team blog administration. Please check it out! That'll save us a lot of time.

Assignment for Feb.22

Hello class!

Next week we'll be tackling M. Twain and American Humor: Storytelling style in M.Twain’s stories
Read: M. Twain’s short biography + HAL p.97-98.

Image Source: http://www.sou.edu/education/vlounge/student%20Web%20sites/26_Mark%20Twain%20Composer%20Website/mark%20Twain.jpg

I hope you have had fun creating your blogs. From now on, we'll be using them to garner ideas and information for your future web site. On our weblogs, we'll do some brainstorming for ideas and possible interpretations of a literary work in question.

Your site will focus on one or two of the authors and it has to include the following literary elements or techniques you are familiar with:analysis of the text;historical, biographical, cultural contextual information;online versions of literary works (as links).This project will give you the opportunity to consolidate and expand upon the work you’ve done this semester. You will have to conduct research in relation to your author/s: their literary works; some biographical information; socio-historical context; related criticism and specific references to the text you choose to include just as you’ve been doing in discussions in class.

By Feb.22 all the groups are expected to choose the topic of their project and explain the reasons for choosing it on their weblog. My advice is to take a topic you are really interested in. It can deal either with the authors we'll be discussing in class, or with works of literature which we won't be able to tackle this semester.

I have put together a list of topics you can choose from. If you have any questions about an author or his writings, please feel free to either ask me by leaving a comment on my blog, or to look it up on wikipedia.org However, I would be very happy if you came up with your own topic.

1. Shine Your Shoes for the Fat Lady, or Spiritual Quest in J.D.Salinger’s Novels “Franny" and "Zooey”
2. J.D.Salinger’s concept of raising children (The Glass Family as his idea of New Age people)
3. Eastern Philosophy in Salinger’s Writings (stories “Teddy”, “Franny”, “Zooey”)
4. Zen Buddhism and the Beat Generation
5. Flapper Culture in “The Great Gatsby”.
6. Modern American Authors on the Art of Writing
7. Josef Brodsky’s Writings in English
8. American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”.
9. Post-War American Society in the novel “The Winter of our Discontent”.
10. The search for American Identity in J. Steinbeck’s novels.
11. F.S. Fitzgerald as a Chronicler of the Jazz Age (stories “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, “Winter Dreams”, “The Rich Boy”, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”).
12. Saul Bellow: a great fantasist (“Henderson the Rain King”).
13. Herzog by Saul Bellow: a novel of redemption
14. The Story of Failure and Success in “Humboldt’s Gift” by Saul Bellow
15. Searching for the Sense of Life: Walker Percy’s “ The Moviegoer”.
16. Fitting in the “middle America”: Rabbit’s trilogy (Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich) 17. William Burroughs, a great American postmodernist writer
18. Nabokov’s “Pnin”: triumphs and its failures of Russian √©migr√© experience in the United States.
19. Nabokov on the nature of time (Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle and Transparent Things) 20. Experience of a Prisoner of War in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five”.
21. Ezra Pound as an Architect of English and American Literary Modernism.
22. Robert Frost, a homespun Yankee sage
23. American Writers: Nobel Prize Laureates
24. The Beatnik Philosophy in the works of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac
25. Tennessee Williams’ plays (The Streetcar Named Desire & The Glass Menagerie)
26. What does McMurphy represent in Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
27. Female Images in Toni Morrison's Sula and Beloved.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Assignment for Feb.15

Dear students:

Please be informed that from now on your regular preparation for the class will include not only your reading assignment, but also some work on your group project which you are expected to post on your weblog on a weekly basis. Your blog will serve as an online portfolio where you'll be gathering information and useful links for your future thematic web site, as well as a means of communication with me, your groupmates, and hopefully other like-minded people.

So, you task for our 2/15 class is

  1. to be ready with your Theodore Dreiser assignment:

  2. (his biography (HAL pp.145-15o) and "The Second Choice" story).

  3. to construct your own blog.
The ultimate goal of our project is to create an original online resource for others. Each group is going to choose a topic (my list of suggestions is a work in progress) or to come up with a topic of interest to you that has to do with literary developments in the USA. We will be working in groups of 3 0r 4 students. Please form a group of 3 and take the following steps together.

Getting Started.
Step 1. You will need to sign up for your group's Blogger.com account. Go to http://www.blogger.com/start and click the "Create Your Own Account" link. Make sure that your group has a personal email account before attempting to sign up. (Since the three of you will be using one and the same login and password, it's a good idea to open up a new mail.ru or gmail.com email account and share it for the duration of the project.)

As part of the registration process, Blogger.com sends out a confirmation email containing a link necessary for activation of the new account. As your websites will be available for public viewing, it is perfectly acceptable for you to use pseudonyms or nicknames when signing up. Note: My display name is anna_filatova for obvious convenience reasons.

Step 2.
You will be required to enter your blog title which will be the heading of your weblog (eg. Mine is "American Literature: Students' Web Projects"). If need be, you can always change it though.
Also, you are to choose your blog's URL (its Internet address). My URL is http://american-literature-projects.blogspot.com

Step 3.
Customize your blog, i.e. select a layout and color scheme for your group's weblogs. Blogspot.coml provides a generous selection of ready-to-go templates and colors that can be chosen with the click of a mouse. Simple customization is important, for it helps to create a sense of ownership and unique online identity from the very beginning. Edit your group's profile, i.e. upload your photos, put some info about yourselves and your interests.

Step 4.
Practice posting and editing! Play around with it. Then learn how to make comments on other Blogspot.com sites and answer comments on your own sites. Go to my weblog http://american-literature-projects.blogspot.com and leave your group's comment about your successful creation of your weblog and its URL.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Syllabus: Twentieth-Century American Literature

American Literature (Spring Semester 2007)
Course Syllabus

Instructor: Anna Vladimirovna Filatova
E-mail: filatowa@mail.ru

Course Description: This course will give you a survey of American Literature from the post-Civil War era to the modern times and will help you to understand the texts through close reading and through analysis of the historical, cultural, and artistic value of the text.
The emergence of realism and naturalism in the post-war industrial era, humorists, the Lost Generation writers and experimental writers, regionalism, the Beat Generation, major works of poetry and drama of the twentieth century will be studied. This course allows you to read numerous short stories, portions of plays, poetry, and novels to gain more insight into literary trends in America

Required books:
1. Highlights of American Literature" (published by the Materials Branch English Language Program Division). 1995.
2. Titova.S. Studies in American Literature. MSU. 1999.
3. Monolingual English dictionaries: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary or Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
4. Dictionary of literary terms and literary theory. J.A. Cuddon. The Penguin. New Edition. 1992.

Minimum requirements for passing this course are substantial course participation, on-time work, and satisfactory attendance.To succeed in the course, you will need to read assignments carefully - that is, more than once-, to follow the syllabus and be prepared to discuss the readings in-depth when you come to class. Class time will be devoted mainly to discussion of the readings which will require preparation and participation on your part! We will make an ample use of the Web as a resource and we will end up creating our own web sites where you are expected to demonstrate your critical thinking, your skills in creative writing, and your abilities to work in a team.

Please note that during the semester you will be required:
· to take reading quizes;
· to develop your research and writing skills by creating your group's weblog (your research portfolio) and posting comments on other groups' weblogs on a weekly basis;
· to produce a collaborative web project and to evaluate the sites of your fellow students.

Regular attendance is the only way to keep up with the ongoing "conversation" of the course. It will also be a factor in the final grades. You should not expect to pass the course if any one of the four major areas of the course--quizes, attendance/participation, blog entries, and the participation in the final web project -- missing, incomplete, or unsatisfactory.

The syllabus below is tentative and may have to be adjusted to reflect the speed at which this particular class works. We might add some additional poems, for example, or find we have to omit a work if we get behind; you are responsible for knowing any changes made orally in class.

Tentative List of Readings and Due Dates (tentative because these may have to change depending on class progress)

** Note! Before each class, you are supposed to read the material listed beside the date. Page numbers include introductions to the authors; be sure to read these.

Week 1- February 8
Introduction to the course and upcoming web projects.

Week 2- February 15
T. Dreiser as a naturalist.
Read: T.Dreiser, “The Second Choice” (http://www.ffl.msu.ru/staff/stitova/amlit/The%20Second%20Choice.html)
”Highlights of American Literature” (HAL) p.145-150,
“Studies in American Literature” (SAL) p.21-23.

Week 3- February 22
M. Twain and American Humor: Storytelling style in M.Twain’s stories
Read: M. Twain’s short biography (http://www.lucidcafe.com/lucidcafe/library/95nov/twain.html) + HAL p.97-98.
M. Twain, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Week 4- March 1
W. Faulkner: a renowned Mississippi writer and the Nobel Prize winning novelist.Read: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-bio.html
W. Faulkner, “Dry September”.
Setting and theme. SAL p.20-21.

Week 5- March 15
Francis Scott Fitzgerald: the Jazz Age writer. “The Great Gatsby”
Read: "The Roaring Twenties", an article by Svetlana V. Titova, an MSU professor (http://www.ffl.msu.ru/staff/stitova/article2.html)
SAL p.25-27.

Week 6- March 22
Characters in “The Great Gatsby”: speech portrayals, appearance, clothes, actions, names, thoughts. (SAL p.27-29.)
Symbols and theme in the novel. (SAL p.29).
Theme analysis of the novel: http://www.novelguide.com/thegreatgatsby/themeanalysis.html

Week 7- March 29
E. Hemingway as a representative of the “Lost Generation” writers.
Read: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/books/1999/hemingway/stories/biography/index.html E.Hemingway, "In Another Country". (HAL 202-205)
Hemingway's principles of short story writing. HAL p.201-206.

Week 8- April 5
J. Steinbeck as a naturalist and realist in his prose.
Read: J.Steinbeck, “The Winter of Our Discontent”.
Plot and story in his novel “The Winter of Our Discontent”. SAL p.30.

Week 9- April 12
American Drama: T.Williams, Eugene O’Neil, Arthur Miller

Week 10- April 19
Discussion of Tennessee Williams’ plays “Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie”

Peer evaluations of the sites are due!!!

Week 11- April 26
The Beat Generation: Poetry and Prose

Week 12- April 28
Site Presentations!!!

Week 13- May 10
Trends in American Fiction
Texts for Discussion: Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five” or J.D.Salinger, 9 Stories

Week 14- May 17
TBD Modern American Poetry

Week 15- May 24
Final Evaluation of the course.