In this course, we will take a careful look at some of the texts that have been consistently defined as "Great American Books". We will read them both critically and respectfully, asking what they reveal and what they conceal about the American experience, using the new critical directions set out by contemporary American Studies. Readings will include works by Hawthorne, Poe, Thoreau, Emerson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Dickinson, Whitman, Melville and Edith Wharton. The course will be primarily discussion. Requirements include weekly short papers as a basis for class discussion and a longer final paper. Prerequisites include college level literature courses and a reasonable facility with critical writing.