This course is designed to familiarize students with American imaginative and non-fiction literary works produced during and on either side of the nineteenth-century, as well as to provide a foundation for further exploration of the period. As we make our way through a variety of works in different genres, we will concern ourselves with the role literature plays in the formation of the nation and national consciousness. Through in-depth class discussions, we will investigate ideas and controversies present in texts that aimed to shape or, at the very least, figure out the shape of the United States. Topics we will address include the reality and memory of slavery, captivity and assimilation, and theories of gender and class relations. We will read works by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, David Walker, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Mark Twain. Course requirements will include class participation, two short response papers, one essay, and a final.