Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

UCLR 100 Interpreting Literature

Spring 2015

UCLR 100: Interpreting Literature

Spring 2015

Dr. Mena Mitrano

Schedule :  Wed. 10:30-12:00 a. m. & 2:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Room: 118

 Office: 114

Office Hours:  by appointment

Office phone:  ext. 372                                 

Email: mmitrano@luc.edu


Interpreting Literature:

Modernist Energies


Nina Baym et al., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition, vol. D  (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011), ISBN: 978-0393934793

Nina Baym et al., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition, vol. E  (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011), ISBN: 978-0393934809


T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Writings. Intro. Mary Karr (Modern Library Classics 2002), 

            ISBN: 978-0375759345


Critical materials provided by the instructor


Course description

This year's theme for our UCLR 100 core course in Interpreting Literature is "Modernist Energies."   Modernism is one of the most exciting key terms in modern culture. Modernism is synonymous with innovation, novelty, and rebellion.

            We will be looking at some of the most charismatic writers thinkers and artists that America has given to the world. Some of them invented modernism by becoming expatriates in Europe; others made their contributions by staying at home. The first group established a tradition of European-American  cultural contact,  a fact that will be of particular interest for the students taking this course at the John Felice Center in Rome.

            Modernism will be treated as a cross-historical sensibility spanning from the early twentieth-century to our days. Hence the title "Modernist Energies."  Students will be encouraged to explore  how modernism has metamorphosed into contemporary forms of expressions. The approach will be interdisciplinary. "Literature" will refer not only to verbal text but will also include various visual materials (paintings, photographs, videos, performance, music).  

            This is a foundational course of literary studies. We will read closely and analyze carefully a variety of texts. prose, poetry, and drama. Students will learn to master key literary and critical term, and explore a variety of core critical approaches to the analysis and interpretation of literature.


Class format and course aim

There will be an emphasis on close reading. We will read and discuss texts in great detail. The aim is to enhance your ability to respond to literature meaningfully and effectively.  You will be encourage to respond in personal, creative, and original ways. You must come to class having read the assigned materials.

            Class will meet once a week. My lectures will alternate with student  presentations. You will be asked to come to class with written notes that you will use as the basis for class discussion. This pattern will reflect the structure of dialogue in general, enabling students to develop intellectual-presentational skills, and to learn the value of open-ended inquiry.



Regular attendance is required. Active class participation is essential in this course. Students will be responsible for active participation in class discussions of the assigned readings. Moreover, each student will be ask to give a presentation on critical materials chosen by the instructor.

            There will be 2 short papers (3 pp.), a final critical essay (6 pp.) , a midterm and a final exam.

For the final essay, you have the option of an alternative production  (photographic portfolio, performance, creative response, musical composition, etc.) to be agreed on with the instructor.

Grading: Written work: 30%;  exams: 30%;  class participation:  20%.;  student presentation: 20%.

Learning Outcomes:  By the end of the course students are expected to

  • Have a basic understanding of  U.S. modern literature in a comparative perspective with European cultural movements as well of the renewal of modernist sensibility in contemporary culture; 
  • Master a basic set of  themes, concerns, conflicts, and desires central to modern American imagination which, however, extend their influence also beyond national boundaries and to world literature;
  • Master close reading;
  • Become familiar with and master key literary and critical terms useful to the analysis and interpretation  of a literary text;
  • Learn to discuss literature in meaningful ways, as a process of individual discovery and in relation to other forms of creativity;
  • Perform an effective interpretation of a literary text.



Class schedule and contents  (In-progress)

Week 1           Jan. 21                        Introduction

Introductory lecture:  Modernist Energies  


Week 2           Jan 28                         T. S. Eliot

Readings for the day:

Prufrock and Other Observations, in The Waste Land and Other Writings (3-21)

"The Waste Land,"  in The Waste Land and Other Writings (38-56)


Week 3           Feb 6               T. S. Eliot  (Part II)

T. S. Eliot, essays from The Sacred Wood: "Tradition and The Individual Talent," "The Metaphysical Poets,"  "Dante"


Week 4           Feb 11                         Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound,  all poems in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol D (314-334)


Week 5           Feb 18                                     H.D.

H.D. (Hilda Dolittle), all poems in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol D (350-357)

DUE: Essay 1 (3 pp).


Week 6           Feb 25                                     Gertrude Stein


Part II: Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, in Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein (1-134)


Week 7           March 4                      Gertrude Stein (Part II)

Readings and visual materials for the day:

"Cezanne," " Matisse," "Picasso," in Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein (329-335)

Tender Buttons, in Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein (459-509)


Week 8           March 11                    Spring Break


Week 9           March 18                    Ernest Hemingway

Readings for the day:

Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol D (826-42)

DUE: ESSAY 2 (3 pp.)


Week 10         March 25                    Wallace Stevens

Readings for the day:

Wallace Stevens, all the poems included in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol D (283-295)


Week 11         April 1                        Langston Hughes/Yusef Komunyakaa

Langston Hughes, all poems in Norton Anthology, vol D (871-880)

Yusef Komunyakaa, all poems in Northon Anthology, vol. E (1044-1049)


Week 12         April 8                        Marianne Moore /Elizabeth Bishop

Marianne Moore, all poems in Norton Anthology, vol D (357-365)

Elizabeth Bishop, all poems in Norton Anthology, vol E (71-90)


Week 13         April 15                      O'Hara/Ashbery

Postmodernist manifestos, in Northon Anthology, vol E (400-418)

Frank O'Hara,all poems in Norton Anthology, vol E (506-512)

John Ashbery, "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," in Norton Anthology, vol E (524-535)


Week 14         April 22

Pre-exam review


Week 15         April 29