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Course Information

Instructor Info:Michele Hardesty
Office Extension x5490
TA Info:Michael Samuels
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

This tutorial will explore the literary cultures and cultural politics of New York City in the 1920s—a period often referred to as the “Jazz Age.” The course will explore a variety of literary and cultural texts from this period (poetry, the novel, silent film, musical theater, essay, recorded music) to explore different and competing modernisms—black and white, differently gendered—that animated the era. With this dual focus, we will ask the following questions: Who defines the terms of the “Jazz Age”? Are there different versions of the “Jazz Age”? What does jazz, as music, have to do with the “Jazz Age”? What is the relationship between jazz and the “modern”?

Additionally, we will seek to deepen and complicate our idea of the “Jazz Age,” not only exploring the significance of tropes like flappers, the prohibition, and the culture of the automobile, and freewheeling wealth, but also the red scare, restrictions on immigration, the rebirth of the KKK, and the struggle for racial and gender equality in the 1920s.

Course Objectives:

The main goal of this course is to introduce you to the study o f U.S. literatures through a cultural studies lens. This tutorial will have a strong emphasis on reading, research, writing, and revision. You will develop your critical reading, viewing, listening capabilities by tackling short writing assignments, and you will dive into the critical and historical archive to build strong research skills. You will design and complete two short, guided research papers, the second of which will include a class presentation.

CUMULATIVE SKILLS: Independent work, Writing and Research, Multiple Cultural Perspectives

Evaluation Criteria:

Participation: This course is a discussion-based seminar; your preparation and participation are crucial to its success. Plan to attend all class meetings, and come to class prepared to discuss the week’s assigned readings.

Short Writing Assignments:These writing assignments, usually 1-3 pages in length, will help you to engage more closely with class readings and to build and strengthen the writing skills you will need to write strong critical essays.

Essays: You will complete two formal essays in this course, both of which will have a research component. Both of these essays will involve preliminary steps, like compiling an annotated bibliography and a paper proposal, as well as a round of revision.

Presentation: During the final week of class, you will give a short presentation about your second essay project.

Self-Evaluations: You are required to write a midterm and a final self-evaluation of your performance in the course. These self-evals should be posted to The Hub.

Additional Info:

My Expectations

Attendance: I expect you to attend all scheduled class meetings. If you miss more than three class meetings (with exceptions made for truly extraordinary circumstances) you will not receive an evaluation for the course. Three tardy arrivals will count as an absence. I suggest you save these three absences for illness, religious observance, and family emergencies. If you know you are going to miss a class, get in touch with me as soon as possible. If you have already missed a class, it is your  responsibility to contact me or another student and find out what you missed.

Due Dates: I expect you to turn in assignments on time. If you are concerned that you will not be able to make a due date, contact me in advance, and we will negotiate an extension. I will not grant extensions after a due date has passed, and late work will be noted unhappily in your evaluation. I expect you to submit assignments on time (posting them to Moodle) even when you have missed class.

Readings: You should always bring the scheduled texts to class with you. You are responsible for bringing ALL readings to class with you; for PDFs and web readings, you may either use a laptop or e-reader OR print these readings out. You may NOT use your smart phone to bring readings to class. You should read all assigned texts closely and actively, and doing so will probably mean marking up the text (whether with pen or digitally) or taking notes in your journal or notebook. I encourage you to jot down questions and thoughts while you read and bring these notes to class.

Journal: In addition to the assigned readings, you should have a journal or notebook for taking notes —in and out of class. While you will not be taking “lecture notes,” you will want to have a place to write down questions and ideas that arise in class, take notes on your reading, and brainstorm for essays and other writing assignments.

LAPTOPS, EREADERS & ELECTRONIC DISTRACTIONS: Just like at the movie theater, I ask that you turn off the sound on all electronic devices when you come to class, and put away your cell phones for the duration of class. While you may use e-readers and laptops in class for course readings, I ask that you refrain from web browsing as well as email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, gchat and other social networking sites that will take your focus away from the course. If you are discovered using such sites, I will ask you to leave class and will mark you absent for the day. 

Academic Honesty: I expect you to submit your own work, with any sources and collaborators (including fellow students!) accurately cited. (We will be discussing citation styles and use of sources as the semester progresses.) I will not tolerate plagiarism. For details on Hampshire College’s Ethics of Scholarship, see


Other information

Course Website: This syllabus is available in electronic form on our course website, which you can access at Also, this website is where I will post prompts for both the short weekly writing assignments and the longer essay assignments; you will post completed assignments to the site as well. I will periodically post articles, links, and other course materials to the website.

Writing Center: I encourage you to take advantage of the faculty in the Writing Center (Deb Gorlin: or x5531; Ellie Siegel,,, offices located in Greenwich) for help with writing and revising your essays.

Library: We will be meeting with the Cultural Studies and Humanities librarian, Bonnie Vigeland, more than once over the course of the semester, but I encourage you to send research questions her way at any point (x5649;

Disability Services: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to meet the expectations of this course, please contact Joel Dansky, Disabilities Services Coordinator, at x5423 or, or stop by his office at CASA’s new home in Lemelson. Registering with Disability Services allows us to make specific accommodations for you in class.



What You Can Expect From Me


You may expect that I will come to class prepared and on time, that I will assign a reasonable amount of reading, that I will give you sufficient time to complete assignments, and that I will give timely feedback on submitted work. Our schedule is somewhat subject to change; however, you can also expect that I will not be changing the schedule heedlessly over the semester.


You may expect that, as your professor and Division I advisor, I will make myself available via email and during weekly office hours to discuss anything related to the course or your academic schedule. You may sign up for office hours (on Hampedia at whenever you need to discuss something with me, and you may email me to make an appointment if those hours don’t fit your schedule. I will also be meeting with each of you on Advising Days. Email is always the best way to reach me, but please don’t expect immediate responses to messages sent late at night or on the weekend.  


Reading Assignments

Most of the course reading will be available in PDF form on Moodle.

There are two required texts available at Food for Thought Books at 106 N. Pleasant St. in Amherst Center:

   Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (Scribner)

   Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference (Bedford)


Additionally, I recommend the following books, which are widely available online:

   Douglas, Ann. Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (Noonday)

   Levering Lewis, David. When Harlem Was In Vogue (Penguin)