Course description: J.D. Salinger’s Seymour Glass tells a story about bananafish, which have swum into a hole and, after filling up on bananas, are unable to swim back out again. They die. What T.S. Eliot’s wasteland was to post-World War I writers, Salinger’s bananafish hole is to contemporary American authors. The hole comes in various disguises. Often the disguises are frightening; sometimes they are funny. Always they are exciting to read about and discuss. We will read works by such writers as Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, John Hawkes, Raymond Carver, Ernest Gaines, Jayne Ann Phillips, Sheri Reynolds, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Kevin Powers. There will be three hour tests with essay and objective sections, discussion questions on blackboard, and a final essay exam.
About this page: This page will host course-specific page links, documents, images, and contextual information related to authors and works being studied during the semester. It will contain information that supplements, but does not replace, the contents of Blackboard and will be a platform that is, in many cases, more quickly and easily accessible than Blackboard
ENGLISH 375 SYLLABUS
ENGLISH 375 SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS
ENGLISH 375 STUDENT CONTRIBUTIONS
- Read contributions from your classmates and/or contribute your own.
Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
ENGLISH 375: THE WORKS IN CONTEXT
TIMELINE: THE 1950s THROUGH THE 2010s
- Decade by Decade Timeline The 1940s through the The 2010s
- Best sites for information on Nine Stories and the Glass Family: deadcaulfields site
- For articles on Salinger, click here: salingerincontext.org
(This is the decade of publication of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut,” “Down at the Dinghy,” and “Just before the War with the Eskimos”)
- More information on Salinger, click here.
- Ideas (subjects, themes) from class discussion (January 22, 2019): We began to look at “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut,” “Down at the Dinghy,” and “Just before the War with the Eskimos” in the thematic context of Salinger’s use of fantasy. We considered these two quotations from Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: (1) “The child comprehends that although these stories are unreal, they are not untrue, and “If only we could recall how we felt when were small we could imagine how utterly defeated a young child feels when his play companions or older siblings temporarily reject him or can obviously do things better than he can, or when adults–worst of all his, his parents–seem to make fun of him, belittle, the we would know why the child often feels like an outcast.” We considered or will consider the ways in which fantasy and imagination can sometimes work in constructive ways (Sybil, perhaps; Ginnie with Selena, perhaps; Boo Boo with Lionel); or in negative ways (Seymour, maybe; Eloise with Ramona; John Gedsukski, again possibly, as we will consider).
- Quotations from”Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut,” “Down at the Dinghy,” and “Just before the War with the Eskimos”: (1) Because I don’t want to hurt Mickey.” (2) “If you’re telling me why you’re running away, I’ll blow every secret bugle call for you I know. All right?” (3) “We’re gonna fight the Eskimos next. Know that?”
- Catching the spirit of the times (late 1940s through the 1950s): “The Merry Minuet” written in 1949 and recorded live at Hungry i nightclub San Francisco in 1958 by the Kingston Trio and released in 1959. I thought you might enjoy listening to it just to have a sense of how some people in the 50s were responding with humor and absurdity to the real threat to the planet of Nuclear war.
The Merry Minuet
- Headlines from The New York Times, August 5, 1945: Atomic Bomb Hiroshima
- Compilation of Images of Atomic Bomb Drop (terrifying): Bomb Drop Images
Popular Culture in the 1940s:
- Some of the Most Well Known Movie Stars of the Forties: Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Humphrey Bogart, Abbott and Costello, Gary Cooper, James Cagney.
- Music From The 40’s : Rhythm and blues Music becomes popular and the beginnings of Rock and roll
- Forties Cars: Cars From the 40s
1950-1959: Two Cars in Every Garage
- (J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories , 1953)
- 1950s stories: “For Esmé–With Love and Squalor,” “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes,” “Teddy”
- 1950: Joseph McCarthy’s attempt to trample civil liberties and damage the careers of leftists, intellectuals and artists. In 1950 he publicly charged that 205 communists had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. Reelected in 1952, he became chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations, and for the next two years he investigated various government departments and questioned innumerable witnesses, resulting in what would be known as the Red Scare. Click here for article
- The Korean War: The “Forgotten” War (1950-1953) The Korean War, which ended just over 60 years ago, never resonated with the American public in the way that World War II did, despite the fact that nearly 2 million Americans served in theater (as part of a United Nations force) in the three-year fight against the North Koreans and Chinese, and some 37,000 died. Perhaps it was because Korea wasn’t a “declared war” and ended in an unsatisfactory stalemate. Click here for full article
- The “Undeclared” War Ends On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China–or even, as some warned, World War III. Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war. The Korean peninsula is still divided today. Click here for full article
- Important Legislation and Events of the 1950s Setting Up Civil Rights Triumphs of the 1960s:
- May 17, 1954 – Racial segregation in public schools is declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education. The ruling of the court stated that racial segregation violated the 14th Amendment’s clause that guaranteed equal protection. The Monroe School in Topeka, Kansas had segregated Linda Brown in its classes.
- December 1, 1955- Rosa Louise McCauley Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger, after the “whites-only section” was filled.
- May 31, 1955 – The Supreme Court of the United States orders that all public schools be integrated with deliberate speed.
- Fifties Cars: More Cars of the 1950s
1960-1969 – Civil Rights and Turmoil
(Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle: 1963)
- “The Day the World Ended” (an alternate musical version to Vonnegut’s idea in Cat’s Cradle; this one by Skeeter Davis–1962; this one also linked from Fallout 4): click here
- See also “Contributions” page for Barbra Streisand’s ironic version of “Happy Days Are Here Again”: click here
- To watch Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, D.C., click here.
- Click here to hear Peter, Paul, and Mary singing “Blowing in the Wind” at that 1963 march.
Cars of the 60
November 8, 1960 – The presidential race to succeed two term president Dwight D. Eisenhower is won by Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate from Massachusetts, over incumbent Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
August 28, 1963 – The Civil Rights march on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom culminates with Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Over 200,000 people participated in the march for equal rights.
November 22, 1963 – In Dallas, Texas, during a motorcade through downtown, President John F. Kennedy is mortally wounded by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn into office later that day. Two days later, Oswald was himself killed on live national television by Jack Ruby while being transported in police custody.
April 4, 1968 – Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on a motel balcony.
June 5, 1968 – Presidential candidate, the Democratic Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy, is shot at a campaign victory celebration in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian, after primary victories, and dies one day later.
July 20, 1969 – The Apollo program completes its mission. Neil Armstrong, United States astronaut, becomes the first man to set foot on the moon four days after launch from Cape Canaveral.
1970-1979 – The Nation in Flux
(from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: 1974)
Cars of the 70s
Timeline – The 1970s
Watergate. The end of Vietnam. Normal relations with China. Earth Day. It was a nation in flux, one turning in small measures to a computer age, even if that computer was originally the size of a house.
February 18, 1970 – Five members of the Chicago 7 are convicted of crossing state lines to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago.
May 4, 1970 – Four students from Kent State University in Ohio were killed and nine wounded by National Guardsmen during a protest against the Vietnam War spread into Cambodia
January 2, 1971 – A ban on the television advertisement of cigarettes goes into affect in the United States.
March 10, 1971 – The Senate approves a Constitutional Amendment, the 26th, that would lower the voting age from 21 to 18. House approval came on March 23. It was ratified by the states by June 30 and received certification by President Richard M. Nixon on July 5.
June 30, 1971 – The United States Supreme Court upholds the right of the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish classified Pentagon papers about the Vietnam War, under the articles of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The New York Times had begun the publication of the Pentagon papers on June 13.
May 22, 1972 – President Richard M. Nixon makes the first trip of the U.S. President to Moscow. The week of summit discussions would lead to a strategic arms pact, SALT I that would be signed by Nixon and Premier Leonid Brezhnev on May 26. On July 8, the White House would announce the sale of American wheat to the Soviet Union.
June 17, 1972 – The Watergate crisis begins when four men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. on the same day that Okinawa is returned from U.S. control back to Japan.
November 7, 1972 – In one of the most lopsided races in American Presidential election history, incumbent President Richard M. Nixon beat his Democratic challenger George S. McGovern, winning 520 Electoral College votes to McGovern’s 17, and taking over 60% of the popular vote.
January 22, 1973 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Roe vs. Wade that a woman can not be prevented by a state in having an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.
January 27, 1973 – Four part Vietnam peace pacts, the Paris Peace Accords, were signed in Paris, France. The announcement of the military draft ending also occurred on that date. The last U.S. military troops would leave the war zone on March 29.
January 30, 1973 – Two defendants in the Watergate break-in trial are convicted. aides H.R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman, John W. Dean, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign under suspicion of obstructing justice. During Senate hearings on June 25, Dean would admit that the administration had conspired to cover up facts about the case, leading to the refusal of the President to release tapes concerning Watergate.
October 10, 1973 – Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns amid charges of tax evasion and is replaced by the appointment of Gerald R. Ford on October 12.
May 7, 1974 – Impeachment hearings are begun by the House Judiciary Committee against President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate affair. On July 24, the United States Supreme Court rules that President Nixon must turn over the sixty-four tapes of White House conversations concerning the Watergate break-in.
July 27, 1974 – The first of three articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon is recommended in a 27-11 vote of the House Judiciary Committee, charging that Nixon had been part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate affair.
August 9, 1974 – President Richard M. Nixon resigns the office of the presidency, avoiding the impeachment process and admitting his role in the Watergate affair. He was replaced by Vice President Gerald R. Ford, who, on September 8, 1974, pardoned Nixon for his role. Nixon was the first president to ever resign from office.
January 1, 1975 – The Watergate cover up trials of Mitchell, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman are completed; all are found guilty of the charges.
February 4, 1975 – Heiress Patty Hearst is kidnaped in San Francisco. She would be recovered by FBI agents on September 8 and subsequently indicted for bank robbery. Hearst would be convicted of the crime two years later.
April 29-30, 1975 – Communist forces complete their takeover of South Vietnam, forcing the evacuation from Saigon of civilians from the United States and the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam.
November 2, 1976 – Challenger Jimmy Carter, a relatively unknown former Democratic governor from Georgia, bests Gerald Ford in a closely contested election. Carter received a slight majority of the popular vote, as well as an Electoral College victory of 297 to 240.
May 25, 1977 – The movie Star Wars opens and becomes the highest grossing film at the time.
July 13, 1977 – The New York City blackout results in massive looting and disorderly conduct during its twenty-five hour duration.
September 21, 1977 – Fifteen nations, including the United States and the Soviet Union, sign a nuclear-proliferation pact, slowing the spread of nuclear weapons around the world.
October 16, 1978 – Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla of Poland, is elected Pope at Vatican City.
March 28, 1979 – An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pennsylvania occurs when a partial core meltdown is recorded. A tense situation ensued for five days until the reactor was deemed under control. It is the largest accident in U.S. nuclear power history and considered the worst in the world until the Soviet Chernobyl accident seven years later.
November 4, 1979 – The Iran Hostage Crisis begins when sixty-three Americans are among ninety hostages taken at the American embassy in Tehran by three thousand militant student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, who demand that the former shah return to Iran to stand trial.
Cars of the 70s
1980-1989 – The Reagan Revolution
(Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: 1981)
(Ernest Gaines’s A Gathering of Old Men: 1983)
Click here for A Gathering of Old Men: Structure Sheet
November 4, 1980 – Ronald Reagan, the former Republican governor of California, beats President Jimmy Carter and independent candidate John B. Anderson, also a Republican, in a landslide victory, ousting the incumbent from office.
January 20, 1981 – The inauguration of Ronald Reagan as the 40th president of the United States occurs in Washington, D.C. It was followed by the release of the fifty-two Americans still held hostage in Tehran.
March 30, 1981 – President Ronald Reagan withstands an assassination attempt, shot in the chest while walking to his limousine in Washington, D.C.
April 12, 1981 – The first launch of the Space Shuttle from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center occurs as Columbia begins its STS-1 mission.
July 29, 1981 – Tax cut legislation proposed by President Ronald Reagan, the largest in history, is passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress. It would reduce taxes by $750 billion over the next five years.
August 12, 1981 – IBM introduces the IBM-PC personal computer, the IBM 5150.
September 21, 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is approved unanimously, 99-0, by the United States Senate to become the first female Supreme Court associate justice in history.
March 2, 1982 – The Senate passes a bill that virtually eliminated the practice of busing to achieve racial integration.
November 13, 1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C., holding the names of the more than 58,000 killed or missing in action during the conflict
March 23, 1983 – The initial proposal to develop technology to intercept incoming missiles, the Strategic Defense Initiative Program, or Star Wars, is made by President Ronald Reagan.
June 18, 1983 – Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman to travel into space.
October 23, 1983 – A terrorist truck bomb kills two hundred and forty-one United States peacekeeping troops in Lebanon at Beirut International Airport. A second bomb destroyed a French barracks two miles away, killing forty there.
July 12, 1984 – Democratic candidate for President, Walter Mondale, selects Geraldine Ferraro as his Vice Presidential running mate, the first woman chosen for that position.
November 6, 1984 – President Ronald Reagan wins reelection over Democratic challenger Walter F. Mondale, increasing his Electoral College victory since the 1980 election to a margin of 525 to 13.
November 19, 1985 – The first meeting in six years between the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States occurs when Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan engage in a five hour summit conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
November 20, 1985 – The first version of the Windows operating system for computers is released.
January 20, 1986 – Martin Luther King Day is officially observed for the first time as a federal holiday in the United States.
January 28, 1986 – The Challenger Space Shuttle explodes after lift off at Cape Canaveral, Florida, killing seven people, including Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire school teacher.
November 3, 1986 – The first reporting of the Iran-Contra affair, diverting money from arm sales to Iran to fund Nicaraguan contra rebels, begins the largest crisis in the Reagan tenure.
August 12, 1987 – Near the end of hearings into the Iran-contra affair, President Reagan admits to a policy that went astray, but denied knowledge of the diversion of funds to the contras.
October 19, 1987 – The stock market crash known as Black Monday occurs on the New York Stock Exchange, recording a record 22.6% drop in one day. Stock markets around the world would mirror the crash with drops of their own.
October 23, 1987 – The President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Robert Bork, is rejected by the U.S. Senate, 58-42, in the largest margin of rejection for the role in history.
February 3, 1988 – The United States House of Representatives rejects the request of President Reagan for $36.25 million to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.
May 4, 1988 – The deadline for amnesty application by illegal aliens is met by 1.4 million applications. It is estimated that 71% of those who applied had entered the United States from Mexico.
November 8, 1988 – Vice President under Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, claims victory in the presidential election over Democratic challenger Michael S. Dukakis, Governor of Massachusetts. The Electoral College vote tallied 426 for Bush and 111 for Dukakis.
March 24, 1989 – The Exxon Valdez crashes into Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, causing the largest oil spill in American history, eleven million gallons, which extended forty-five miles.
August 10, 1989 – Army General Colin Powell is elevated to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first African American to be nominated to that post.
November 9, 1989 – The Berlin Wall, after thirty-eight years of restricting traffic between the East and West German sides of the city, begins to crumble when German citizens are allowed to travel freely between East and West Germany for the first time. One day later, the influx of crowds around and onto the wall begin to dismantle it, thus ending its existence.
1990-1999 – Prosperity as the World Turns
(Sherri Reynolds’ The Rapture of Canaan: 1995)
(Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies: 1999)
Cars of the 90s
The ending of the Cold War was completed, in many ways, by the strong policies of U.S. President Ronald Reagan toward the Soviet block. Six days later, a plan to reunite Germany was announced.
April 1, 1990 – The 1990 census is conducted, counting 248,718,301, for an increase of 9.8% over the 1980 census. This is the smallest increase in the population rate since 1940.
April 24, 1990 – The Hubble Telescope is placed into orbit by the United States Space Shuttle Discovery. One month later, the telescope becomes operational.
June 1, 1990 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev sign a treaty to eliminate chemical weapon production and begin the destruction of each nation’s current inventory.
August 2, 1990 – Iraq invades its neighbor, Kuwait, setting into motion the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Gulf War
January 12, 1991 – U.S. Congress passes a resolution authorizing the use of force to liberate Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm begins four days later with air strikes against Iraq.
February 27, 1991 – The Gulf War ends one day after Iraq withdraws its forces from Kuwait and sets the oil fields on fire. A cease fire is declared and Iraq accepts the condition of disarmament after one hundred hours of ground fighting.
October 3, 1991 – The governor of Arkansas, William Jefferson Clinton, announces his intention to seek the 1992 Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States.
January 26, 1992 – The renewed nation of Russia, part of the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26, 1991, and their leader Boris Yeltsin announce that they will stop targeting the cities of the United States with nuclear weapons.
August 21, 1992 – The Siege of Ruby Ridge is begun by United States Marshals, lasting ten days. The incident would end with the acquittal of all but one minor charge against the Weaver family and lead to admonishment of the handling of the incident by Federal authorities.
November 3, 1992 – In a three way race for the presidency of the United States, Democratic candidate Bill Clinton defeats incumbent President George H.W. Bush and businessman H. Ross Perot of the Reform Party. Many trace the loss of President Bush to his reneging a pledge for “no new taxes.” Clinton received only 43% of the popular vote, but 370 Electoral votes to Bush with 37.4% and 168 Electoral College votes. Perot garnered 18.9% of the popular vote, but no Electoral College delegates.
February 26, 1993 – The World Trade Center is bombed by Islamic terrorists when a van parked below the North Tower of the structure explodes. Six people are killed and over one thousand are injured.
February 28, 1993 – The fifty-one day Waco standoff begins when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms attempt to arrest the Branch Davidian leader David Koresh on federal arms violations. Four agents and five members of the cult are killed in the raid. The siege would end on April 19 when a fire, started by the Davidians, killed seventy-five members of the group, including the leader.
June 27, 1993 – President Bill Clinton orders a cruise missile attack on the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad, responding to the attempted assassination attempt cultivated by the Iraq Secret Service on former U.S. President George H.W. Bush during his visit to Kuwait two months before.
January 1, 1994 – The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect, creating a free trade zone between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
June 12, 1994 – The bodies of Nicole Brown SImpson and Ronald Goldman are found outside her home in Los Angeles, California. Five days later, her husband, former football star O.J. Simpson is arrested for the crime, but is later acquitted on October 3, 1995. The Simpson case was one of the highest profile murder cases in the nation’s history.
November 8, 1994 – The Republican revolution concludes with the midterm elections when for the first time in forty years, the party gains control of both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
April 19, 1995 – Anarchists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols explode a bomb outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing one hundred and sixty-eight people in a domestic terrorism attack.
July 5, 1996 – At the Roslin Institute in Scotland, Dolly, the sheep, becomes the first mammal to be cloned.
November 5, 1996 – President William J. Clinton defeats Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole, as well as the second run of businessman Ross Perot.
March 4, 1997 – Federal funding for any research into human cloning is barred by President Bill Clinton.
May 25, 1997 – Strom Thurmond becomes the longest serving member of the United States Senate at forty-one years and ten months.
October 29, 1997 – Iraq states that it will begin to shoot down U-2 surveillance planes used by United Nations UNSCOM inspectors attempting to mandate Saddam Hussein meet the provisions of surrender in the 1991 Gulf War.
January 26, 1998 – The Monica Lewinsky scandal begins when U.S. President Bill Clinton denies his relationship with the White House intern in a televised interview. This denial, and other denials to a grand jury investigation, would lead to the impeachment of the president.
February 23, 1998 – Osama bin Laden publishes his fatwa that announced a jihad against all Jews and Crusaders. This announcement would push forward the Islamic fundamentalist agenda toward terrorism against western interests.
September 29, 1998 – The United States Congress passes legislation, the Iraq Liberation Act, that states the U.S. wants to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace it with a democracy.
October 29, 1998 – John Glenn, thirty-six years after becoming the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, becomes the oldest astronaut in space at seventy-seven years old. His role on the Space Shuttle Discovery flight tests the effect of space travel on aging.
January 1, 1999 – The Euro currency is introduced as a competitive tool to stem the power of the dollar and maximize the economic power of the European Union nations.
February 12, 1999 – President Bill Clinton is acquitted by the U.S. Senate in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The Senate trial, which began January 7 and needed a 2/3 majority to convict, ended with a 55-45 not guilty vote on the charge of perjury and 50-50 vote on the charge of obstruction of justice.
May 3, 1999 – A series of tornadoes strikes Oklahoma, including an F5 category storm that slams Oklahoma City, killing thirty-eight. The fastest wind speed ever recorded on earth is measured by scientists at 509 km (318 mph) during this tornado.
2000-2009 – The Fight against Terrorism
(ZZ Packer’s “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”: 2003)
2010-Present – Economic Recovery
(Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds: 2012)