Literature: The Human Experience, Shorter Edition Reading and Writing

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  • Edition: 11th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-07-18
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Literature: The Human Experience provides a broad range of compelling fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction that explores the intersections and contradictions of human nature. Timeless themes such as innocence and experience, conformity and rebellion, culture and identity, love and hate, and life and death are presented through the context of experiences that are enduringly human. Diverse selections from contemporary and classic authors across time and cultures offer students opportunities to discover literature with which they can connect.

A flexible arrangement of literature within each theme allows instructors to teach the text however best suits their classrooms, and the expert instruction and exciting selections will help to guide and entice even the most reluctant readers. Enhancements to the shorter twelfth edition include two new casebooks that help students to see how literature can make arguments as well as new reading questions that ask students to make arguments about the selections. To top it off, Literature: The Human Experience is value-priced, providing a wealth of material for an affordable price.

Literature: The Human Experience is also available with LaunchPad Solo for Literature, a set of online materials that helps beginning literature students learn and practice close reading and critical thinking skills in an interactive environment.

Author Biography

Richard Abcarian (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is a professor of English emeritus at California State University, Northridge, where he taught for thirty-seven years. During his teaching career, he won two Fulbright professorships. In addition to editing Literature: The Human Experience and its compact edition, he is the editor of a critical edition of Richard Wright's A Native Son, as well as several other literature textbooks.

Marvin Klotz (PhD, New York University) is a professor of English emeritus at California State University, Northridge, where he taught for thirty-three years and won Northridge's distinguished teaching award in 1983. He is also the winner of two Fulbright professorships (in Vietnam and Iran) and was a National Endowment for the Arts Summer Fellow twice. In addition to editing Literature: The Human Experience and several other textbooks, he coauthored a guide and index to the characters in Faulkner's fiction.

Samuel Cohen (PhD, City University of New York) is Associate Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri. He is the author of After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s, co-editor (with Lee Konstantinou) of The Legacy of David Foster Wallace, Series Editor of The New American Canon: The Iowa Series in Contemporary Literature and Culture, and has published in such journals as Novel, Clio, Twentieth-Century Literature, The Journal of Basic Writing, and Dialogue: A Journal for Writing Specialists. For Bedford/St. Martin's, he is author of 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology and coauthor of Literature: The Human Experience.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors


Responding to Literature

????? Emily Dickinson, There Is No Frigate Like A Book

Why We Read Literature

Reading Actively and Critically

Reading Fiction

The Methods of Fiction

????? Tone

????? Plot

????? Characterization

????? Setting

????? Point of View

????? Irony

????? Theme

Questions for Exploring Fiction

Reading Poetry

????? Walt Whitman, When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

Word Choice

Figurative Language

????? Metaphor

????? Simile

????? Personification

????? Allusion

????? Symbols

The Music of Poetry

Questions for Exploring Poetry

Reading Drama

Stages and Staging

The Elements of Drama

????? Characters

?????????Dramatic Irony

????? Plot and Conflict

Questions for Exploring Drama

Reading Nonfiction

Types of Nonfiction

????? Narrative Nonfiction

????? Descriptive Nonfiction

????? Expository Nonfiction

????? Argumentative Nonfiction

Analyzing Nonfiction

????? The Thesis

????? Structure and Detail

????? Style and Tone

Questions for Exploring Nonfiction

Writing about Literature

Responding to Your Reading

Annotating While You Read

????? William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29


Keeping a Journal

Exploring and Planning

????? Asking Good Questions

????? Establishing a Working Thesis

????? Gathering Information

????? Organizing Information

Drafting the Essay

Refining Your Opening

Supporting Your Thesis

Revising the Essay

Editing Your Draft

????? Selecting Strong Verbs

????? Eliminating Unnecessary Modifiers

????? Grammatical Connections

Proofreading Your Draft

Some Common Writing Assignments



Comparison and Contrast

The Research Paper

An Annotated Student Research Paper

Some Matters of Form and Documentation



????? Brackets and Ellipses

????? Quotation Marks and Other Punctuation


????? Documenting Online Sources

A Checklist for Writing about Literature


Questions for Thinking and Writing


Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown

*Naguib Mahfouz, Half a Day

John Updike, A & P

Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson

Jamaica Kincaid, Girl

*Camden Joy, Dum Dum Boys


James Joyce, Araby

Rivka Galchen, Wild Berry Blue

CASE STUDY IN ARGUMENT: Finding Grace in Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Flannery O'Connor, from Mystery & Manners

*Bob Dowell, from The Moment of Grace in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor

Hallman B. Bryant, Reading the Map in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

*Michael Clark, Flannery O’Connor’s "A Good Man Is Hard to Find": The Moment of Grace


*Jonathan Swift, Stella’s Birth-Day. 1724-5

William Blake, The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)

*William Blake, The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Experience)

William Blake, The Lamb

*William Blake, The Shepherd

William Blake, The Garden of Love

William Blake, London

William Blake, The Tyger

Robert Browning, My Last Duchess

Emily Dickinson, I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

*Thomas Hardy, The Men Who March Away

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall

A.E. Housman, When I Was One-and-Twenty

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost, Birches

Stevie Smith, Not Waving but Drowning

Countee Cullen, Incident

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Constantly Risking Absurdity

Philip Larkin, This Be the Verse

Anthony Hecht, After the Rain

Audre Lorde, Hanging Fire

*Alicia Ostriker, The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz

*Louise Glück, The Myth of Innocence

Louise Glück, The School Children

Alan Feldman, My Century

Sandra Cisneros, My Wicked Wicked Ways

Sandra Castillo, Christmas, 1970

Evelyn Lau, Solipsism

CONNECTING POEMS: Voices of Experience

Langston Hughes, Mother to Son

Peter Meinke, Advice to My Son

Robert Mezey, My Mother

Gary Soto, Behind Grandma's House


Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Suzan-Lori Parks, Father Comes Home from the Wars


Langston Hughes, Salvation

Judith Ortiz Cofer, American History

Brian Doyle, Pop Art

Further Questions for Thinking and Writing


Questions for Thinking and Writing


Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener

Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist

Ralph Ellison, Battle Royal

Shirley Jackson, The Lottery

Harlan Ellison, "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman

Amy Tan, Two Kinds

*George Saunders, The End of FIRPO in the World


Richard Crashaw, But Men Loved Darkness rather than Light

William Wordsworth, The World Is Too Much with Us

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Emily Dickinson, Much Madness is divinest Sense

Emily Dickinson, She rose to His Requirement

Thomas Hardy, The Man He Killed

William Butler Yeats, Easter 1916

William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

Carl Sandburg, I Am the People, the Mob

*Wallace Stevens, Peter Quince at the Clavier

Claude McKay, If We Must Die

Langston Hughes, Harlem

W. H. Auden, The Unknown Citizen

Dudley Randall, Ballad of Birmingham

Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool

Marge Piercy, The Market Economy

Carolyn Forche, The Colonel

Natasha Trethewey, Flounder

CONNECTING POEMS: Revising America

Walt Whitman, One Song, America, Before I Go

Langston Hughes, I, Too

Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Learning to Love America


Sophocles, Antigonê


Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal


*Bill McKibben, A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change

*Rebecca Solnit, Revolutions Per Minute

*Malcolm Gladwell, Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

Further Questions for Thinking and Writing


Questions for Thinking and Writing


*Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper

William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily

James Baldwin, Sonny's Blues

Alice Walker, Everyday Use

Sherman Alexie, This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona


*Jonathan Swift, Market Women’s Cries

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

Emily Dickinson, I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

James Weldon Johnson, A Poet to His Baby Son

T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

*Howard Nemerov, Money

Etheridge Knight, Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane

Marge Piercy, Barbie Doll

Kay Ryan, All Shall Be Restored

Juan Felipe Herrera, 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border (remix)

*Gregory Djanikian, Sailing to America

Judith Ortiz Cofer, Latin Women Pray

Louise Erdrich, Dear John Wayne

Marilyn Chin, How I Got That Name

Taslima Nasrin, Things Cheaply Had

*Omar Pérez, Contributions to a Rudimentary Concept of Nation

*Chris Abani, Blue

Kevin Young, Negative

Terrance Hayes, Root

*Tishahi Doshi, The Immigrant’s Song

*Tishani Doshi, Lament I

CONNECTING POEMS: America through Immigrants’ Eyes

Phillis Wheatley, On Being Brought from Africa to America

*Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

*Léopold Sédar Senghor, To New York

*Kofi Awoonor, America


David Henry Hwang, Trying to Find Chinatown


Virginia Woolf, What If Shakespeare Had Had a Sister?

George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

*Eula Biss, Time and Distance Overcome


Bharati Mukherjee, Two Ways to Belong in America

Lacy M. Johnson, White Trash Primer

Further Questions for Thinking and Writing


Questions for Thinking and Writing


Kate Chopin, The Storm

Zora Neale Hurston, Sweat

Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants

Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

*Lydia Millet, Love in Infant Monkeys


Sappho, With His Venom

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29 "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 64 "When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 130 "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"

John Donne, The Flea

John Donne, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Ben Jonson, Song, to Celia

Robert Herrick, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Anne Bradstreet, To My Dear and Loving Husband

Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress

William Blake, A Poison Tree

Robert Burns, A Red, Red Rose

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Dorothy Parker, One Perfect Rose

Theodore Roethke, I Knew a Woman

Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

Wislawa Szymborska, A Happy Love

Lisel Mueller, Happy and Unhappy Families I

Carolyn Kizer, Bitch

*Carolyn Kizer, Afternoon Happiness

Galway Kinnell, After Making Love We Hear Footsteps

Adrienne Rich, Living in Sin

Sylvia Plath, Daddy

Lucille Clifton, There Is a Girl Inside

Seamus Heaney, Valediction

Billy Collins, Sonnet

Wyatt Prunty, Learning the Bicycle

Adrian Blevins, The Case Against April

Daisy Fried, Econo Motel, Ocean City

CONNECTING POEMS: Remembering Fathers

Theodore Roethke, My Papa's Waltz

Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays

Li-Young Lee, Eating Alone


*Catullus, 70

*Aphra Behn, Love in Fantastique Triumph satt

*Edna St. Vincent Millay, I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)

*Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Be Near Me

*Andrea Hollander, Betrayal


William Shakespeare, Othello

Susan Glaspell, Trifles


Paul, 1 Corinthians 13

Maxine Hong Kingston, No Name Woman

*Sonya Chung, Getting It Right

CONNECTING NONFICTION: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

*Dagoberto Gilb, I Knew She Was Beautiful

*Pablo Piñero Stillmann, Life, Love, Happiness: A Found Essay from the Twitterverse

Further Questions for Thinking and Writing


Questions for Thinking and Writing


Edgar Allen Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour

Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

Helena María Viramontes, The Moths


Leslie Marmon Silko, The Man to Send Rain Clouds

*Allegra Goodman, Apple Cake


Anonymous, Edward

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73 "That time of year thou mayst in me behold"

William Shakespeare, Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun

John Donne, Death, Be Not Proud

*Jonathan Swift, A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Emily Dickinson, After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Emily Dickinson, I heard a Fly buzz—when I died

Emily Dickinson, Apparently with no surprise

Emily Dickinson, Because I could not stop for Death

Gerard Manley Hopkins, God's Grandeur

A. E. Housman, To an Athlete Dying Young

William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium

Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory

Robert Frost, After Apple-Picking

Robert Frost, "Out, Out—"

Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost, Design

Pablo Neruda, The Dead Woman

*Czeslaw Milosz, A Song on the End of the World

Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

James Wright, Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Donald Hall, Affirmation

*Marvin Klotz, Requiem

Alicia Ostriker, Daffodils

Seamus Heaney, Mid-term Break

Jane Kenyon, Let Evening Come

Yusef Komunyakaa, Facing It

Victor Hernández Cruz, Problems with Hurricanes

Mark Halliday, Chicken Salad

Marie Howe, What The Living Do

*Dilruba Ahmed, Snake Oil, Snake Bite


Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish

William Stafford, Traveling Through the Dark

William Greenway, Pit Pony

*John Updike, Dog’s Death


*Edward Albee, The Sandbox


John Donne, Meditation XIV, from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

E. B. White, Once More to the Lake


*Jonathan Lethem, 13,1977, 21

*Ruth Margalit, The Unmothered

Further Questions for Thinking and Writing


Glossary of Critical Approaches



Ethical Criticism

Feminist Criticism

Formalist Criticism

Marxist Criticism

Historical Criticism

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Postcolonial Criticism

Reader-Response Criticism

Biographical Notes on the Authors

Glossary of Literary Terms

Index of Authors and Titles

* = New to this edition

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