Introduction to American Literature
In this course, we will read texts by American authors and practice critical thinking skills to help us describe and interpret meanings, literary conventions, contexts, historical periods, and cultures. To provide ourselves a focusing lens to study these texts, we will use the concepts of Race, Land, and Power to frame our reading of American literary works. By focusing on texts by marginalized communities such as Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian-American, and Jewish-American peoples, we will gain a fuller understanding of the relationship between American literature and ideas about Race, Land, and Power. Although our reading goals will change over time, there are a few specific questions we will frequently ask again throughout the course. Here are some of those questions:
How do the literary conventions and forms of a text influence the meanings of a text? What literary conventions and forms are unique to a given historical period? What does it mean to be American and what counts as American literature? How do ideas about Race, Land, and Power interact with one another to produce meanings in a given American literary text? In this course, we will read works from various genres such as poetry, short fiction, graphic novel, speech, song, essay, memoir, drama, and letter to see how different genres lead us to different answers to the above questions.