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Intro to American Literature

ENGL 080.001
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

One of the core required courses for English majors, English 80 examines the varied forms and functions of writing in America up to the 20th century. We take our bearings from Herman Melville, who observed about a character's birthplace, "It is not down in any map; true places never are." Thus our subject is the shifting boundaries and intersections between maps (the quotidian world of facts) and true places (the non-localized realm of imagination). We will read texts that seem to "map" (travel narratives, essays such as Emerson's "American Scholar," realistic fiction by Sarah Orne Jewett and Stephen Crane); texts that seem "true" (Native American origin tales, Franklin's AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Whitman's LEAVES OF GRASS, slave narratives); and texts that mix modes (MOBY-DICK, WALDEN, THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK). A central concern of this course is the development of American literary study, as mapping has been imposed on writers by critics, theorists, the marketplace, and the forces of race, gender, and class. Lecture/discussion format; three or four formal writing assignments; informal response opportunities; a final project or exam; individual texts supplemented by the Heath Anthology of American Literature (Vol. I, 3rd ed.).