American Visions: U.S. Literatures from the Founding to the Civil War
English 80 will introduce you to the diversity of literatures produced in the period (roughly) 1700-1860; we will read these texts as complicating and sometimes contradictory responses to the questions "What is an American?" and "What is America?" Reading across genres, we will begin by juxtaposing texts published in the era of the nation's founding -- the Declaration of Independence, Franklin's The Autobiography (excerpts), Jefferson'sNotes on the State of Virginia (excerpts), with African American narrative and poetry, for example. As we move into the 19th century our frame expands further: texts likely will include excerpts from the writings of Margaret Fuller, Emerson and Thoreau; Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans; Mary Jemison's captivity narrative; Douglass' 1845 Narrative; Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Melville's Benito Cereno; Rebecca Harding Davis' Life in the Iron Mills. The format of the course will be lecture/discussion.