ENGL 3235 American Novel


Judith L. Strathearn, Ph.D.
Email:  judith.strathearn@Colorado.EDU


Elif Shafak states, “ Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water” in her 2010 TED talk “The Politics of Fiction.” With Shafak’s ideas in mind, our course employs novels from the late 20th and early 21st centuries that engage how imaginative discourse is informed by the politics of race, class, gender, and the crossing between those identities. We will couple our readings of the novels by viewing of the film adaptation to further address how the shifts from page to screen both enhance and complicate the politics of identity.


  • Compare and contrast how authors reflect upon and reimagine racism, sexism, and classism in modern spaces.
  • Describe and define the different forms of American literary genres and the ways in which authors create, form, and modify those forms in their writings.
  • Develop both a literary and cinematic vocabulary to discuss the intersectionality of themes at work on the page and on the screen.
  • Explain the uses of memory and how that in turn forms identity within the novels and film.
  • Synthesize and discuss the primary materials as well as supporting scholarship, critical analysis, close reading, and literary terminology.
  • Enhance writing skills through formal and informal writing assignments. Students will work with MLA citation formatting in formal essays that will use textual and cinematic evidence to support well-constructed argumentative ideas.


  • Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, Book One
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Chuck Palahiuk, Fight Club
  • Sapphire, Push
  • Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

Each novel film adaptation will be available through our D2L website. Additional required readings and supplementary materials will be on D2L in PDF and media forms.


Module Discussion Posts 400 points total
Module Reflection Papers 250 points total
Final Essay 100 points
End-of-Semester Commentary 50 points

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado