Avid readers of American fiction will have to find a new way to spend Monday and Wednesday afternoons this semester.
“The American Novel Since 1945,” a popular English and American Studies lecture that fulfills American literature requirements in both majors, was canceled Monday morning, less than three hours before its first scheduled meeting. Morse College Master and recently appointed Divisional Director of the Humanities Amy Hungerford announced in a post on the Classes v2 server that she decided not to teach the course due to extensive administrative responsibilities while serving in both roles. Emails were also sent Monday to English and American Studies majors to notify them of the class’s cancellation.
Despite these efforts, not all interested students heard the news in time, and many arrived at Linsly-Chittenden 101 still expecting to hear Hungerford’s first lecture.
“I was slated to teach the course as a teaching overload,” Hungerford told the News in an email. “During the break I re-evaluated the decision to teach above and beyond [administrative releases], and looking at the total picture of English and American Studies lecture offerings this term, and thinking about teaching fellow employment, the [directors of undergraduate studies] and I decided together to cancel the course.”
University Registrar Gabriel Olszewski said that, though the department initiated the cancellation on Yale’s online system on Jan. 6, a glitch prevented the change from immediately appearing on any of the Online Course Information, Online Course Selection or Yale BlueBook sites. His office fixed the listing as soon as the relevant departments pointed out the delay, Olszewski added.
At 1:30 p.m., when the class was scheduled to begin, a small crowd of approximately 20 gathered in LC 101, where a message on the chalkboard announced the class’s cancellation. Students with majors ranging from English to electrical engineering expressed their disappointment that the course will not be offered this semester. Some students said they planned to use the class for distributional credit or had simply attended to watch their college master teach, while others said they had expected to use “American Novel” to satisfy major requirements.
American Studies major Rafi Bildner ’16 said the last-minute cancellation was frustrating.
However, American Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies Kathryn Dudley told the News that junior majors who had planned to use “American Novel Since 1945” this semester for the requirement would be able to postpone fulfilling it until next year. In an email to American Studies majors, she also identified several other courses available this semester that can satisfy the American literature requirement, including “Race and Gender in American Literature,” “Science Fiction” and “Contemporary African American Arts,” which is scheduled for a time slot similar to the one “American Novel” was supposed to occupy.
Hungerford wrote in her Classes v2 post that she does not expect the class’s cancellation to be a problem for English majors trying to fulfill their own American literature requirement, given the abundance of alternatives within the department, and that she plans to offer the course, which she has taught several times, next year. Its lectures from previous years are also available via Open Yale Courses, she added.
English major Shannon Csorny ’15, who took “American Novel Since 1945” in spring 2012, said she thinks the cancellation should have been announced earlier, but that the English department tends to be flexible in similar situations.
“The American lit [requirement] is never really the source of stress in the English major,” Nicole Clark ’16 said in an email to the News, adding that the major’s other requirements tend be more difficult to fulfill.
On Sunday, 104 students had already signed up for the course on Online Course Selection. As of Monday afternoon, 75 students were still signed up.
Correction, Jan. 13: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the reason why Rafi Bildner ’16 was frustrated by the cancellation of the course.