Fall 2011 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Walsh, Dennis
Discipline and Number
LIT 3322 Section 501
MW Time 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
Course Title
Early American Literature

Description of Course:

"For we must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill," John Winthrop, 1630

"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just," Thomas Jefferson, 1787

The goal of Early American Literature 3322 is to introduce students to the richness and variety of literary works written in and about America from the early 1500s to 1800. Students will explore a sweep of literary forms-- history, fiction, poetry, sermons, political tracts, diaries, essays and personal narratives-- that were written by divergent voices over a period of more than two and half centuries. Moreover, students will confront the principal myths and historical realities that inform much of the readings about this “brave new world,” America, which was as much an invention of the European mind as it was a historical reality. The course will pay particular attention to such large issues as God and nation, language and reality, democracy and slavery, nature and man,spiritual and physical journeys and “the Other,” those situated outside or on the margins of the dominant ideologies. Our principal textbook, The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Beginnings to 1800, includes writings by women and men in prose and poetry from New Englanders to Southerners and Puritans to Federalists. The course not only examines the history that literature makes but considers the cultural milieu in which it was produced.

Required Texts:

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Beginnings to 1800, vol. A, 6th. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston:Houghton-Mifflin, 2009.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

GRADES: There will be three formal research papers of five to seven pages each. The formal papers will be graded on the qualities of research, thinking, factual correctness, correct mechanics,organization and graceful writing. All grades will be averaged.

READINGS: It is essential that students be current in assigned readings. We will be covering the writings of more than 30 authors whose works span nearly 300 years. It will be difficult to catch up if one falls behind.

ATTENDANCE: Should a student miss two or more classes, the final grade will be affected negatively. Please notify me of pending absences.

PARTICIPATION: Student participation in class discussion is appreciated. The more you involve yourself in the class, the more you will benefit. Please ask questions, offer your opinions and challenge the instructor.

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