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Contemporary Literature 2015-2016
Instructor: Sommer Mahoney
Office: Cultural Center 13
Classroom: Cultural Center 18
Email: smahoney@hyde.edu

Course Description:

William Blake once wrote “the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God; I cared not for the consequences, but wrote.” “Honest indignation” will be the theme of our year. Students in Contemporary Literature will take Blake’s mind-frame into the later half of the 20th century as we literary scene of post-World War II of America. From the Holocaust to McCarthyism, Dr. Angela Davis to Hunter S. Thompson, Civil Rights to immigration policy, we will wrestle with the apparent paradox between American Individualism and the fears instilled by Hitler’s reign: to what degree are we responsible for our neighbor? If we are responsible at all? To better understand these questions, students will not only read, but also write in, various literary styles, including novels, memoirs, short stories, poetry, scripts, speeches, and Gonzo journalism. Students will determine what kinds of writing they prefer to read and write, and what formats are best for what kinds of ideas. We will focus on developing oral, verbal, and written rhetoric skills, and critical reading and literary analysis, by sampling authors that span from the traditional to the (truly) abstract and absurd. Students will complete a memoir project and a research project that do not so much strive to answer the questions that consume contemporary American writers, but to join the dialog about our modern world, and propose questions of their own.


Five Types of Writing:

Strunk and White:

Homework and Lessons:

Fall Unit 1: The Writer's Toolbox

Unit Plan:

WEEK 1 (9/8-9/12): Objectives and Homework


Rhetorical Triangle

WEEK 2 (9/14-9/19): Objectives and Homework


WEEK 3 (9/21-26): Objectives and Homework


Fall Unit 2: Remembered and Forgotten: Night

Unit Plan:

WEEK 4 (9/28-10/3): Objectives and Homework:

NYTimes Review

WEEK 5 (Oct. 5-10): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 6 (Oct. 12-17): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 7 (Oct. 19-24): Objectives and Homework
"Night" PDF

WEEK 8 (Oct 26-31): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 9 (Nov 9-14): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 10 (11/9-14): REVIEW WEEK

Winter Unit 1: The Crucible

Unit Plan:

WEEK 1 (Dec 1-5): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 2 (12/7-12): Objectives and Homework

WEEK (12/14-17): Objectives and Homework

WEEK 2: Objectives and Homework

Winter Unit 2:

WEEK 1 (Jan 6-9): Homework and Objectives:

WEEK 2 (Jan 12-16): Homework and Objectives:

WEEK 3 (Jan 19-23): Homework and Objectives:


WEEK 5 (Feb 2-6): Homework and Objectives:

Winter Unit 3:

Spring Unit 1:

Week 1 (March 21-25): Objectives and Homework

Week 2 (March 28 - April 1): Objectives and Homework

Week 3 (April 4 - 8): Objectives and Homework

Week 4 (April 11- 16): Objectives and Homework

Week 5 (April 19 - ): Objectives and Homework

Spring Unit 2:

Week 1 (May 3-8): Objectives and Homework

Week 2 (May 11-15): Objectives and Homework

Week 3 (May 18-22): Objectives and Homework

Review Packets:
Fall Final Exam Review Packet:
Winter Final Exam Review Packet:


Diana Hacker (For grammar exercises)
Son of Citation Machine (For help with citation)
Colby Farnham Writers' Center (Under the "Students" tab, you can check out "Grammar Tips")
For Help With Transitions
For help with quotation formatting
How to format a block quote