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Intro To American Literature

ENGL 080.601
instructor(s):
W 4:30-7:30

WHAT COUNTRY HAVE I? WRITERS AND WRITING IN AMERICA

>From its early formal beginnings in the late 19th century, American literary study has depended on the complex interplay of publishers, critics, curricular trends, cultural politics, university budgets, tenure decisions---and on the authors of classroom texts. Is there a writer in this class, we might ask? Our focus in English 80 this fall will be on the struggles of American writers to pursue a literary vocation, to make themselves heard, to enter (or to resist) the marketplace, to find a niche in the literary canon, to argue for the relevance of art (high, popular, or middlebrow). We will read texts by writers who hid their manuscripts (Edward Taylor, Emily Dickinson); by writers who published themselves (Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman); by writers who were failures (Herman Melville); by writers who wrote best-sellers (Harriet Beecher Stowe); by writers who were lost to history (Harriet Wilson); by writers who went overseas to get published (Washington Irving); by writers who meditated on the writer's life (Anne Bradstreet, Henry James); by writers who taught themselves to write (Frederick Douglass, Jack London); by writers who learned English as a second language (William Apess, Zitkala-Sa).

Lecture/discussion format, with several formal papers, informal response opportunities, lots of reading but of varied texts and at varied paces, a final project, possible field trips. Individual texts supplemented by a criticism, history, and theory (bulkpack/online). Please contact lhall@dept.english.upenn.edu for further information.