Fulfills Distributional Course in Arts and Letters
As America developed as a nation, so too did American literature. Many of our finest novelists have been concerned with the terms by which national identity is forged. Some have staged this engagement by making the "founding fathers" into characters in their novels: Thomas Jefferson is a key figure in William Wells Brown's Clotel and Benjamin Franklin appears in Israel Potter by Herman Melville. Other writers, such as Ralph Ellison and Meridel Le Sueur, present alternative or underground visions of American history. In this course we will read a variety of novels from the 19th and 20th centuries that present imaginative approaches to understanding the idea of "America." In addition to exploring forms of identity, we will also discuss forms of literature. For example, Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans and Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street will help us to engage forms of the novel. Texts may include those mentioned above, as well as Uncle Tom's Cabin, in addition to others. We may also view the film The Business of Fancydancing by Sherman Alexie. Course requirements: Report on a secondary source, quizzes on material from the readings and lectures, one short paper, and one longer paper. No mid-term or final exams.