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Intro to American Literature

ENGL 080.601
instructor(s):
T 6:30-9:30

This course examines how language and literature adapt to the stubborn realities of cultural difference, geography, and environment as we survey the forms and history of early American writing. Beginning with the expedition and exploration narratives of Christopher Columbus, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, Samuel Champlain we will read stories of pilgrimage, captivity, colonization, and genocide; private piety and public life; and the contested development of national identity. We will closely examine the contradictory yet commingled projects of freedom and enslavement, self-reliance and community cohesion as we grapple with questions of aesthetic innovation and tradition, westward and commercial expansion, citizenship and national belonging in decades leading to the Civil War. Texts may include the narratives of cultural contact by John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson; the literature of the early republic by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Susanna Rowson, and Olaudah Equiano; and the writing of Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Apess, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson.