This spring English 200 will build its inquiry upon the architectural metaphor of construction. We will observe issues
of design: how has the American literary canon been constructed and reconstructed? what ideologies have framed interpretations of American literature at various point in time and space? what critical beams hold up the house of literary study? how does theory buttress our experience of texts? And we will also observe issues of production: how have texts been constructed from the working parts of invention and convention? how have the reputations of writers been built and rebuilt? how do marketplace forces shape texts and audiences? what constructions of the self have been molded from varying constructions of language? After a brief survey of 17th and 18th century writers and notions about the place of literature in an emerging culture, we will read an array of autiobiography, essays, novels, short fiction, and poetry: a collection of colonial narratives, Franklin's Autobiography, Jacob's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Thoreau's Walden, portions of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, a selection of Hawthorne's tales, Melville's Moby-Dick, Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Twain's Puddn'head Wilson, stories by women regionalists, Dreiser's Sister Carrie, and DuBois's The Souls of Black Fold...Requirements will include four papers (two short and two more complex), informal oral presentations, and a willingness to "Unscrew the locks from the doors!/Unscrew the doors themselves from the jambs." Auxiliary readings (some recommended, some required) will cover such figures as Bradstreet, Taylor, Wheatley, Freneau, Jefferson, Emerson, Dickinson, Adams, Howells, Garland.