Literature of the Americas to 1900
This course looks at 17th, 18th, and early 19th-century literature by and about people who lived and traveled the north Atlantic region, people who existed on the margins of—and often in conflict with—the period’s emerging nation-states. Pirates, sinners, and castaways, as well as indentured servants, enslaved Africans, and utopians of all sorts, left literary and historical traces of themselves that flesh out our understanding of this volatile period. These subjects also represent alternative ways of living that speak to our contemporary moment. We will read little known texts such as criminal confession narratives written by people condemned to execution, narratives by black sailors, second hand tales of cross-dressing women pirates, and accounts of shipwrecked sailors involved in the colonization of the Americas. We will also read more well-known texts that thematize this “other Atlantic” in order to understand how neglected histories thrive in the midst of familiar, canonical literature.