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Introduction to American Literature

ENGL 200.001
instructor(s):
MWF 10

According to George Santayana, American thought in the nineteenth century was the product of "two mentalities, one a survival of the beliefs and standards of the fathers, the other an expression of the instincts, practice, and discoveries of the younger generations." In attacking the former, Santayana was repeating, in 1911, an intellectual declaration of independence that had been made by various authors since the Continental Congress formally declared the independence of the United States.  The fact that such a declaration had to be made so often by so many suggests something of the American anxiety about not only the gains but the costs of independence.
We will begin our quick tour of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature by examining what various authors have to say about these gains and costs, particularly about the relative value of individual freedom and commonweal.  We will read works by Jefferson, Franklin, Crevecoeur, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Stowe, Douglass, Melville, Whitman, Lincoln, Twain, Jewett, Freeman, Chesnutt.  Requirements include frequent very short papers in response to the reading, two formal essays of about five pages each, a mid-term and a final examination.
 
Note: This course is required of most majors. But students may take either 82 or 83 to complete the same requirement.