American & Canadian Literature - lecture series

B.A. Level
Study year
Klára Kolinská
Martin Procházka
Justin Quinn
Erik Sherman Roraback
Hana Ulmanová
Pavla Veselá
Clare Wallace
winter and summer

To give information about the development of literature on the territory of the present U.S.A. in various historical periods.

The course is divided into three modules.

1. Colonial Period through the Civil War (Procházka, Kolínská 12 weeks)
The course traces general tendencies in the process of es­tablishing American literature. It combines historical and literary approaches with the main focus on the Puritan tra­dition and the literary achievements of the Revolution, and their most important representatives. The course also pro­vides the students with elementary information about the po­litical and historical aspects of American culture of 17th and 18th century. Further topics include the key features of American literature during the period of the search for national identity (the Revolution through the beginning of Civil War), especially American Romanticism and Transcendenta­lism, and the earliest development of Canadian literature.

2. Civil War through World War II (Procházka, Quinn, Wallace, Kolínská, Veselá, 12 weeks)
The first part of the course focuses on the period of search for American demo­cracy (the Civil War through World War I). It includes the growth of Realism, Naturalism and Modernism. These develop­ments are discussed in the context of the emergence and re-emergence of literary centers in the South, Mid- and Far West, of regionalism (local color) and of the beginnings of African American literature. The course continues into the twentieth century with a detailed presentation of Modernism in all genres, demonstrating the stylistic and thematic transformations the country’s literature underwent in the period. At the same time, writers such as Willa Cather and Robert Frost will be considered for the ways that they suggest other narratives of the period beyond Modernism. The socially engaged literature of the 1930s will also be dealt with.

Summer 2018

Wks 1-5: 21 Feb - 28 Mar: Martin Prochazka on American Lit to 1914

Wks 6-7: 4 and 11 Apr: Clare Wallace on drama, 1914-1945

Wk  8: 18 April: Klara Kolinska on Canadian Literature until 1945

Wks 9-10: 25 April - 2 May: Stephan Delbos for Justin Quinn (on leave) on Poetry, 1914-1945 

Wks 11-12: 9 May - 16 May: Pavla Vesela on Fiction, 1914-1945

3. World War II to the Present (Roraback, Ulmanová, Wallace, Kolínská, Quinn 13 weeks)
The explosive social and political changes that the US witnessed in this period had a profound effect on the nation’s culture, especially in the key decade of the 1960s. The onset of the Cold War in the 1950s set the scene for much of the conservation and revolt that followed, which is especially apparent in the Beat Generation. The emergence of African-American literature ignited other hyphenated literatures that can be grouped around Multiculturalism. Sout­hern Literature and American-Jewish Literature are also central phenomena of the period. Post-modernity is a further important concept that illuminates the work of several important novelists of the period, and this will also be dealt with in detail.

Wtr 2017

Wks 1-3 (4 - 18 Oct) ER on prose African American with special reference to Ralph Ellison; Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, and Postmodern Prose 

Wks 4-6 (25 Oct - 8 Nov): HU Jewish American plus Southern Literature

Wks 7-8 (15 - 22 Nov): CW Drama, 1945-present

Wks 9-10 (29 Nov - 6 Dec): KK Canadian Literature, 1945-present

Wks 11-13 (13 Dec, 20 Dec, and 3 Jan): JQ on poetry, 1945-present; Richard Ford & Dirty Realism

The lectures are highly selective and do not provide a comp­lete survey of the history of American literature.

Knowledge of the themes and problems discussed in the lectu­re is required for the exam in American literature and for the B.A. Exam (bakalářská zkouška).