English 600 Atlanticisms: English Literatures in the Atlantic World

Fall 2004 / Tuesdays, 12-3 / Lea Library

Professors Cavitch and Gamer



Description: Both British and American studies are currently being reshaped by new modes of inquiry that transcend or reconceptualize the histories of individual nations. These modes, which we are loosely grouping together under the term Atlanticisms, focus instead on what Bernard Bailyn has called “the common, comparative, and interactive aspects” of the peoples and cultures of the Atlantic world—that geohistorical matrix bounded by Great Britain, Europe, Africa, North and South America, and the Caribbean. We will be studying a wide variety of canonical and non-canonical works in English from the Restoration to the 19th century: a period of restless migration, both free and coerced, and of vast movements of ideas and commodities. This proseminar is the first half of the year-long introduction to graduate literary study and part of your preparation for the proseminar exam that will be given in the Autumn of 2005. Students in this seminar will be asked to complete multiple short assignments as well as an in-class presentation and a ten-page final research paper.



Required texts (available at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom):

Jane Austen, Persuasion (Broadview)

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (Norton)

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Penguin)

Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (Modern Library)

Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative (Penguin)

Frances Anne Kemble, Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation (Georgia)

Matthew Lewis, Journal of a West India Proprietor (Oxford)

Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings (Penguin)

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (Houghton Mifflin)



Schedule of readings and other assignments:


Sep 14:        David Armitage                                          “Three Concepts of Atlantic History”

Joseph Roach                                                “Introduction” to Cities of the Dead


Sep 21:        Aphra Behn                                                    Oroonoko (1688)

Joseph Roach                                                “Feathered Peoples”

responses from Group A


please try to attend: Stuart P. Schwartz (Yale), “Transimperial Careers: Popular Toleration in Colonial Contexts,” Atlantic Studies Seminar, 4:30-6:00 at 3619 Locust Walk (McNeil Center for Early American History and Culture)


Sep 28:        Daniel Defoe                                                 Robinson Crusoe (1719)

responses from Group B


Oct.  5:        Jonathan Edwards                                     Faithful Narrative (1737)

George Whitefield                                                      Journals (selections, 1738-41)

Samson Occom                                           A Short Narrative of My Life (c. 1768)

“Sermon” (1772)

Frank Lambert                                             “‘similar facts .. are now united’: Constructing a Transatlantic Awakening”

responses from Group A


Oct. 12:       John Whaley                                                 “On a Young Lady’s Weeping at

Oroonooko” (1732)

Adam Smith                                                  from A Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

John Wesley                                                  Thoughts upon Slavery (1774)

Linebaugh and Rediker                        “Robert Wedderburn and Atlantic Jubilee”

responses from Group B


Oct. 19:       Phillis Wheatley                                         Poems (1773)

Paul Gilroy                                                     “The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity”

responses from Group A


please try to attend: Marcy Norton (George Washington), “Cultural Authorities Confront Tobacco and Chocolate: Colonial Ideology, Renaissance Epistemology, and Local Sensibilities,” Atlantic Studies Seminar, 4:30-6:00 at 3619 Locust Walk


Oct. 26:       no class—autumn break                       bibliographies due; please e-mail yours to

                                                                                                            the course listserv


Nov.  2:      Olaudah Equiano                                       Interesting Narrative (1789)

Adam Smith                                                  from The Wealth of Nations (1776)

responses from Group B


Nov.  9:      William Blake                                              Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793)

William Wordsworth and

     Samuel Taylor Coleridge            from Lyrical Ballads (1798)

Coleridge                                                         “On Slavery” (1795)

Wordsworth                                                   “Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria

Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress” (1787); “To Toussaint L’Ouverture” (1802)

                           Anne K. Mellor and

                                Richard E. Matlak                            from British Literature, 1780-1830: “Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Abolition in


                                                                                                            from “The Mansfield Judgment” (1772)

                           William Cowper                                         “The Negro’s Complaint” (1778); “Pity for Poor Africans” (1788)

                           Thomas Bellamy                                        The Benevolent Planters (1789)

                           Robert Southey                                           “The Sailor, Who Had Served in the Slave

                                                                                          Trade” (1798)

                           William Wilberforce                               from “A Letter on the Abolition of

                                                                                 the Slave Trade” (1807)

Amelia Alderson Opie                          “The Black Man’s Lament” (1826)

                           Anna Laetitia Barbauld                        “The Mouse’s Petition” (1773); “Epistle to

                                                                                 William Wilberforce” (1792)
Hannah More                                                “Sensibility” (1782); “Slavery” (1788)

                           Helen Maria Williams                           “To Sensibility” (1786); “To Mrs. Siddons” (1786); “A Poem on the Bill Lately Passed” (1788)

responses from Group A


Nov 16:       Jane Austen                                                    Persuasion (1818)

Franco Moretti                                             “The Novel, the Nation-State”

responses from Group B


please try to attend: Barbara Fuchs (Penn), “Traveling Epic: Translating Ercilla's Araucana in the Old World,” Atlantic Studies Seminar, 4:30-6:00 at 3619 Locust Walk


Nov 23:       Matthew Lewis                                           from Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834)

Fanny Kemble                                             from Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation (1863)

by this date you should have come and discussed your conference paper idea with one of us and had it approved


Nov 30:       Frederick Douglass                                  My Bondage and My Freedom (1855)

conference paper abstract due


Dec.  7:                                                                                        class conference


Dec. 13:                                                                                       revised papers due

Explanation of coursework:


bi-weekly response papers: Each week, on Sunday night, one half of the seminar will post responses to the readings to the course listserv (ENGL600-301-04C@lists.upenn.edu).  Responses should be thoughtful, carefully written, and no more than 500 words.  Responses must be posted by Sunday night, so plan your reading time accordingly.  Between Sunday and Tuesday, we’ll all read through the responses, print them, and bring them to class.  During the weeks you don’t write a response, you come to class with questions for the people who did write them.  So, the rhythm of the seminar (hopefully) will go as follows:

1.       On Sunday evening, members of the designated group will post their responses to the listserv.

2.       Sometime between Sunday evening and Tuesday noon, we’ll all read the responses as part of our preparation for class.

3.       In class on Tuesday, we’ll include the week’s responses in our discussion.


Group A: Avilez, Barnett, Caloyeras, Chase, Elsky, Enderle

Group B: Lim, Mathiesen, Ogden, Quinn-Brauner, Shashaty, Steirer


an oral presentation: This is not a scripted paper, but a 10-minute oral presentation on a topic of relevance to the day’s discussion.  Below are some possible topics and corresponding dates.  First-come, first-served.  If you have an alternative idea then please come and discuss it with us.

Š          the stage history of Oroonoko (9/28)

Š          the story of Inkle and Yarico (9/28 or 11/9).

Š          Occom, Indians, hymnody, and revivalism (10/5)

Š          John Newton, “Amazing Grace,” and Circum-Atlantic hymnody (10/5, 10/12, 10/19)

Š          Benjamin Franklin and slavery (10/12)

Š          Wheatley’s Trans-Atlantic reception, 1770-1860 (10/19)

Š          the controversy over Equiano’s origins (11/2)

Š          William Blake’s illustrations for Stedman’s Narrative (11/9)

Š          William Blake, Philadelphia, and Swedenborg (11/9)

Š          the Austen family and empire (11/16)

Š          Matthew Lewis before the Journal (11/23)

Š          Fanny Kemble and performance (11/23)



a bibliography: For this assignment, we would like you to choose one of the primary texts from the syllabus—from the week in which you are presenting—and contextualize it.  If you were presenting on September 20th, for example, you would be working on Oroonoko.  You’ll compile a bibliography of your text’s 1) production and publication history, 2) reception history, and 3) recent critical history.  Each bibliography should include no more than 10 items.  In the case of the production and publication history, for example, you might find all pertinent information in just a few sources.  For each of the three bibliographies, you’ll write up a short narrative assessment (maximum 750 words).  So, the assignment should be organized as follows:

1a. narrative on production and publication history (max. 750 words)

1b. bibliography on production and publication history (max. 10 sources)

2a. narrative on reception history (max. 750 words)

2b. bibliography on reception history (max. 10 sources)

3a. narrative on recent critical history (max. 750 words)

3b. bibliography on critical history (max. 10 sources)

Regardless of when you are doing your presentation, your bibliography is due to the course listserv on October 26th.  The purpose of this assignment is to hone your research skills and to provide everyone in the course with 12 superlative bibliographies that can be drawn on later when writing your papers or studying for the proseminar exam.


a conference paper abstract (maximum 500 words):  Note that your conference paper may not be on the same text that was the subject of your bibliography.


a conference paper (maximum 2000 words): To be read at the end-of-semester conference on December 7 and then revised for submission on December 13.