Professor, Department of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
-unsworth, at uiuc.edu-
* Advanced Problems in LIS, Topic: 20th Century American Bestsellers
**Seminar in Literary Modes and Genres
Choose a Bestseller
In this course, we will use bestselling 20th-century American literature as a means of understanding publishing, bibliography, and popular culture in 20th-century America. This semester, the assigned reading will focus on representations of Christian religion in popular 20th-century novels, and we wil read bestselling novels on this subject and analyze the causes and components of their popularity. Supplementary reading will focus on the publishing industry and the profession of authorship in America. Students will choose a title from the bestsellers database at the beginning of the semester, read that book, and contribute into the database five assignments: a bibliographic description of a first edition, a publishing history, a reception history, a biographical sketch, and a critical essay. Assigned reading will be the basis of the midterm and final exam.
Readings should be completed by the dates specified in the schedule below.
A linked title indicates full text of the novel is available online. next to a title indicates that a completed entry already exists for this book in the bestsellers database: if such an entry exists, it should be considered required reading.
See: Grading Policy
Students will be required to submit a series of assignments into the bestsellers database during the semester, focused on a single best-seller (chosen from the lists of bestsellers by decade, above, but not a book that has already been chosen by someone else, nor any of the required readings for the course). These assignments will comprise a bibliographical description of a first edition, a publication history (including performances in other media, if any), a biographical sketch of the author, a reception history, and a critical analysis of the work in its cultural and literary contexts. All of these assignments will be submitted online, using Web-based submission forms: they will become part of an ongoing project to compile a Web-accessible database of information about bestselling 20th-century American literature.
For each database assignment, students must also submit a list of the sources consulted in completing each subsection of that assignment, whether or not the source produced information. These sources can be submitted through the Sakai site, or by email to the instructor, or in hard copy. Please do include the names of sources that produced information for a particular assignment in the database submission as well.
In addition to the database assignments, students will work in small groups to present each of the books that we read in common. These presentations must provide an overview of the following:
|Due Dates||Submission Forms||Help Docs|
|January 18||First class meeting: Pre-registered students must attend (or lose priority).|
|January 25||Choose a bestseller to work on for the five database assignments|
|February 1||Finish Dixon, The One Woman for today.|
Presentation by Nectoux, Stille, Suni
|February 8||Finish Churchill, The Inside of the Cup for today.|
Presentation by Doskey, Trolard, DeBrock
|February 15||Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description||Submit Sources to -unsworth, at uiuc.edu-||Help Documentation and Examples for Assignment 1|
|February 22||Finish Lewis, Elmer Gantry for today.|
Presentation by Gilmore, Fuller, Sledge
|March 1||Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History||Submit Sources to -unsworth, at uiuc.edu-||Help Documentation and Examples for Assignment 2|
|March 8||Finish Douglas, The Robe for today.|
Presentation by Goodhue, Holguin
|March 15||Receive Take-Home Midterm.|
Movie Day (Elmer Gantry, 1960)
|March 22||Spring Break|
|March 29||Take-Home Midterm Due in class today. |
Finish West, The Shoes of the Fisherman for today.
Presentation by Schar, Oliverio
|April 5||Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author||Submit Sources to -unsworth, at uiuc.edu-|
|April 12||Finish Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull|
Presentation by Optie, Peeples
Presentation by Johnson, Unger
|April 19||Assignment 4: Reception History||Submit Sources to -unsworth, at uiuc.edu-||Help Documentation and Examples for Assignment 4|
|April 26||Finish LaHoye & Jenkins, Left Behind for today.|
Presentation by Filkins, Hommel
|May 3||Assignment 5: Critical Analysis||Submit Sources to -unsworth, at uiuc.edu-|
|May 10||Final Exam, 7-10 PM|
|Any Time||Add Supplementary Materials||Help on Formatting Entries|
|Any Time||Update Assignments or Supplementary Materials|
|Credits and Acknowledgements||Rave Reviews: Bestselling Fiction in America|
|An interview describing this class (from the MLA's radio show "What's the Word")|
downloadable in in MP3 format (7.3 MB) or as streaming audio, in RealAudio format