The Social Protest Novel

November 1, 2004

Institution: Sonoma State University
Discipline: English
Title: The Social Protest Novel
Instructor: Tim Wandling

The Social Protest Novel

Professor Timothy Wandling Phone: 664 2796
Office: N362A 0ffice Hours: M 10 12, Th 1 3
Email: wandling {at} sonoma(.)edu
Class list: engl4721 {at} sonoma(.)edu

Key questions and goals:
To study and understand activist writing.
To practice and participate in activist work and writing.
To understand the ways writers speak to audiences.
To examine the place in literary history of social protest literature.
To analyze this literature effectively.
To reflect upon the literature with reference to your own life and times.
To make a difference in your local community.
To participate.


  • Comparison and contrast essay (due 2/27): 250 points
  • Service Learning project (See handout): Due 5/13 150 pts
  • Reflective Journal (ongoing) 100 pts
  • A 3-5 page piece of your own activist writing (4/24) 250 points
  • Attendance, participation. 100 points
  • In class quizzes and writing (on going) 200 points

Service Learning Component:
In order to accomplish several of the above requirements, you will work closely with one of the following organizations. We will continually examine the role writers (that means YOU and the writers we will study) play in bringing about change or raising awareness in global, national, and local communities.

St. Joseph’s Health System: Contact: Dory Magasis Escobar, 547 2289 Mission: To continue to improve the health and quality of life of the people in the communities they serve. You will work as and with neighborhood organizations working for social change.

Family Connection: Contact: Bonnie Shand Mission: To support families as they transition from Homelessness to permanent housing. You will work with and on mentoring/support teams for such families. Commitment is yearlong.

Scheduled Readings for the Social Problem Novel
Finish reading by date in parenthesis.

Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills” (2/4)
“Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal” (2/11)
Thomas Carlyle “Condition of England Question” (2/13)
Elizabeth Gaskell, Mia Barton (2/18)
“Chartist Poetry”, selections (2/25)
Charles Dickens, Hard Times (2/27)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (3/11)
Melville “Bartleby” and Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” (3/20)
Emile Zola, Germinal (3/25)
Choice: Upton Sinclair, The Jungle OR Jack London, Martin Eden OR George Gissing, The Nether World (4/15)
Choice: John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath OR Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (4/24)
Studs Terkel, selections form Hard Times (5/1)
Alice Walker, The Color Purple (5/6)
Choice: Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible OR Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (5/15)

School: Sonoma State University
Professor: Tim Wandling
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