English 417:  Literature of Immigration

Prof. Joseph Conte   

Spring 2010


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 Jan 12:             Introduction:  The literature of immigration.

 Jan 14:             The multi-ethnic literatures of the U.S.

 Jan 19:             Tenement life:  Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives

 Jan 21:             Riis’ How the Other Half Lives

 Jan 26:             Riis’ How the Other Half Lives

 Jan 28:             The rabbi and the “new woman”:  Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers

 Feb 2:              Yezierska’s Bread Givers

 Feb 4:              Yezierska’s Bread Givers

 Feb 9:              Southern Italian saga:  Gay Talese’s Unto the Sons

 Feb 11:            Talese’s Unto the Sons

 Feb 16:            Talese’s Unto the Sons

 Feb 18:            Talese’s Unto the Sons

                         First Essay Due in Class

 Feb 23:            Talese’s Unto the Sons

 Feb 25:            Talese’s Unto the Sons

 Mar 2:              Werner Herzog, Stroszek:  A Ballad (1977).  Film.

 Mar 4:              Herzog, Stroszek.  Film.

 Mar 9:              Spring Recess

 Mar 11:            Spring Recess

 Mar 16:            The professor takes a sabbatical:  Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin

 Mar 18:            Nabokov’s Pnin

                         Second Essay Due in Class

 Mar 23:            Nabokov’s Pnin

 Mar 25:            The Irish troubles:  Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes

 Mar 30:            McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes

 Apr 1:              McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes

 Apr 6:              McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes

 Apr 8:              The ghetto nerd:  Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

 Apr 13:            Díaz’s Oscar Wao

 Apr 15:            Díaz’s Oscar Wao

 Apr 20:            Díaz’s Oscar Wao

Final Critical Essay Due in Class

 Apr 22:            Conclusions and evaluations

 Required Texts:

 All texts are available in paperback at Talking Leaves Bookstore, 3158 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14214, located across from the South Campus.  (716) 837-8554.

Díaz, Junot.  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  New York:  Riverhead, 2007.

McCourt, Frank.  Angela’s Ashes.  New York:  Scribner, 1997.

Nabokov, Vladimir.  Pnin.  New York:  Vintage, 1989.

Riis, Jacob.  How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York.  New York:  Penguin, 1997.

Talese, Gay.  Unto the Sons.  New York:  Random House, 2006.

Yezierska, Anzia.  Bread Givers: A struggle between a father of the Old World and a daughter of the New.  New York:  Persea Books, 2003.

Additional readings can be found on the UB Learns site for this course.

Course Requirements:

Two five-page papers; an eight-page critical essay; and regular attendance.

Papers:   Neatly printed copies must be presented in class on the day indicated on the syllabus.  These copies should adhere to the following format:  a cover page with a title for your essay, your name, the course number and title, the date; typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins; all pages numbered; stapled.  The paper should be proofread for grammatical and typographical errors. 

Late policy:  Late assignments will be accepted only by prior arrangement with me.  Failure to seek approval before the due date will result in a penalty of one grade increment per class meeting. 

Plagiarism:  All secondary materials, either from print or digital sources, must be properly attributed.  Plagiarism of a paper—either in whole or in part—will result in an immediate failure for the assignment and possible failure for the course, at the discretion of the instructor.

Attendance:  Noted on a daily basis.  Absence from more than six classes during the course of the semester will result in a final grade deduction, up to and including failure for the course, at the instructor’s discretion.  Students should be prepared to discuss the readings at every class.  Please turn off cellular telephones and other p.d.a.s before entering the classroom.

Grading:  50% for the two papers; 40% for the critical essay; and 10% for attendance and participation in class discussion.


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Last revised on Wednesday, March 24, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 Joseph M. Conte. All Rights Reserved.