Survey of American Literature: Beginnings to 1865 (online)

English 3300W
Aliki Barnstone
Course Description

This course is offered online in the second 8 weeks of the semester.

This writing intensive survey American Literature will explore writers in the contexts of major social, political, philosophical, theological movements. We will ask questions about the strictures against women's education and writing, self-determination and agency. To that end, we will give special attention to writings by women, such as Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley, the two most significant American poets of the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively, Harriet Beecher Stove, Harriet Jacobs, and Emily Dickinson. We'll use Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin as a focal point for dealing with slavery, the idea of "woman's sphere," and representations of African-Americans and women. We will also discuss historical events that have women at their center or in which women played significant roles: the Trial of Anne Hutchinson, the Salem Witch Trials, the Seneca Falls Convention, and Abolitionism. Other readings may include Native American Creation Stories and Trickster Tales, John Winthrop, The Bay Psalm Book, Roger Williams, Edward Taylor, Mary Rowlandson, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Red Jacket and other Native American Orators, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Philip Freneau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Rebecca Harding Davis.

Given the scope and quantity of these works the focus of the course is on reading, and the writing assignments are designed to help students synthesize the material and read more closely and carefully. Writing will consist of a reading journal, seven 2-page reading response papers, four of which will be revised. They will also prepare a five-minute oral report on either "Backgrounds and Contexts" or a work of criticism from The Norton Critical Edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin. There will be ample opportunities for creativity in this course.