ENGL 1600 Introduction to American Literature


Jaquelin Pelzer

Email: jaquelin.pelzer@colorado.edu


This course takes root in the literature of a century ago, discovering what lies behind the glitzy patina of the “roaring twenties”. Side by side with the rise of motion pictures, automobile culture, jazz, flappers, and the Harlem Renaissance, we will examine the darker underpinnings of the seemingly euphoric jazz age – including the traumatic impacts of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic – and explore the roots of the devastating Great Depression to come. How did these historical events and cultural moments shape the literature of the decade? And what echoes of the Lost Generation do we see in our own ’21?

Course Prerequisites: n/a


In this class, we will study literature to achieve these primary aims: 1) Content Knowledge: authors and texts, national themes and historical contexts, major literary movements, and more. Reading quizzes at the end of each module will cement the knowledge gained by doing assigned readings and attending to introductory lectures and discussion post prompts. 2) Analysis: digesting texts for structure, themes, style, and commonalities and differences among them, including discussion posts and close readings. 3) Writing: expression of understanding, analysis, and synthesis through three close reading assignments of increasing length & complexity. 4) Reading: foster reading confidence/comfort with reading long texts and encourage a life-long habit of reading.


Jean Toomer, Cane (978-0143133674)

Willa Cather, Professor’s House (978-0679731801)

Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (978-0871403179)

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (ISBN 978-0679732242) [must use this ed.]

Nella Larsen, Passing (978-0142437278)

(Additional short readings and videos posted to Canvas.)


Close Reading Exercise 1 – 7.5%

Close Reading Exercise 2 – 10%

Final Paper (comparative) – 20%

Reading quizzes (five open-book quizzes upon completion of modules) – 25%

Discussion posts (10 total posts) – 35%

Syllabus quiz – 2.5%

(Opportunities for extra credit may be announced during the term.)


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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