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Introduction to American Literature

ENGL 200.002
instructor(s):
MWF 11

According to George Santayana, American thought in the nineteenth century
was the product of "two mentalities, one a survival of the beliefs and
standards of the fathers, the other an expression of the instincts,
practice, and discoveries of the younger generations."  In attacking the
former, Santayana was repeating, in 1911, an intellectual declaration of
independence that had been made by numerous authors ever since the
Continental Congress formally declared the independence of the United
States.  the fact that such a declaration had to be made repeatedly
suggests something of the American anxiety about not only the gains but
also the costs of independence.  We will begin our quick tour of
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature by examining what
various authors have to say about these gains and costs, particularly
about the relative value of individual freedom and commonwealth.  We will
read works by Jefferson, Franklin, Crevecoeur, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Stowe,
Douglass, Melville, Whitman, Lincoln, Twain, Jewett, Freeman, Chesnutt.
Requirements include frequent very short papers in response to the
reading, three formal essays of about five pages each, and a final
examination.