Literatures of the Americas to 1900
This course will introduce you to the tremendous range and energy of American writing of the colonial and national periods. We'll begin in 1590, during the earliest years of English exploration and settlement in North America, with an extravagant narrative of travel and enterprise by Thomas Harriot, who thrilled imaginations and tempted pocketbooks by introducing a large European audience to the wonders of what he called "the new found land of Virginia." The really big thrill was that throughout the Atlantic continents -- Europe, Africa, and the Americas -- people and cultures were newly on the move. Writers living in and writing about North America kept pace with them, tracking movements both real and imaginary, both voluntary and coerced. These authors -- from Harriot in the 16th century, to John Winthrop, Aphra Behn, and Mary Rowlandson in the 17th, to Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Olaudah Equiano in the 18th, to Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson in the 19th -- helped generate and convey an unprecedented traffic in new ideas and in new metaphors for living amidst rapid global change. Requirements will include several short papers, mid-term and final examinations, and a balance of in-class exercises and regular discussion.