Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Introduction to American Literature

ENGL 200.001
TR 12-1:30

This fall section of English 200 will build its inquiry upon the
architectural metaphor of construction.  We will observe issues of
design: how has the American literary canon been constructed and
reconstructed? what ideologies have framed interpretations of American
literature at various point in time and space?  what critical beams hold
up the house of literary study?  how does theory buttress our experience
of texts?  And we will also observe issues of production:  how have texts
been constructed from the working parts of invention and convention?  how
have the reputations of writers been built and rebuilt?  how do
marketplace forces shape texts and audiences?  what constructions of the
self have been molded from varying constructions of language?  After a
brief survey of 17th and 18th century  writers and notions about the
place of literature in an emerging culture, we will read an array of
autobiography, essays, novels, short fiction, and poetry:  Franklin's
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Douglass's NARRATIVE, Thoreau's WALDEN, portions of
Whitman's LEAVES OF GRASS, a selection of Hawthorne's tales, Melville's
MOBY-DICK, Stowe's UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, novellas by Henry James, Twain's
HUCKLEBERRY FINN, local color stories by Jewett and Freeman, Dreiser's
SISTER CARRIE, and DuBois's THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK.. Requirements will
include three formal papers, informal oral presentation's and a
willingness to "Unscrew the locks from the doors!/Unscrew the doors
themselves from the jambs."  Auxiliary readings (some recommended, some
required) will cover such figures as Bradstreet, Wheatley, Freneau,
Crevecoeur, Jefferson, Emerson, Jacobs, Dickinson, Adams, Howells,

fulfills requirements