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Intro. to American Literature

ENGL 080.910
instructor(s):
MTWR 1-2:35

This class will introduce many important works of American literature before 1900. We will investigate how Americans voiced their fears and desires in literary texts ranging from Columbus' early exploration narratives to Puritan denunciations of sin, from John Brown's deadly raid to Jack London's stories of the Klondike. In our survey of literary and cultural writings that have helped to define the idea of what it means to be "American," we will pay special attention to violence and its impact on an America that Richard Slotkin has called the "gunfighter nation." Class readings will cover topics such as the frontier myth, natural disasters, religious debate, slavery, city crimes, revolution, and immigration; authors may include Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Cotton Mather, Frederick Douglass, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Rowlandson, and George Lippard.