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Introduction to American Literature

ENGL 080.001
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

In this course we will survey American literatures dating from the early national period (1776-1787) up to and including the Civil War-era, reading from the variety of texts - political documents and pamphlets; slave narratives; essays; novels; short stories; poems - that helped define a nation that was simultaneously a hegemonic colonial power with respect to native populations and a nation divided within itself, half-slave and half-free. In this way we also necessarily examine underlying tensions over race relations, gender roles and family structure, marketplace-based relations, and the freedom to define and defend a democratic self, tensions which ultimately gave rise to what's been called the Second American Revolution. Writers will likely include Thomas Jefferson, David Walker, Fenimore Cooper, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Lydia Maria Child, William Wells Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman.