Fall 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
Our seminar in American Narrative Before 1800 includes a reading of essential texts from the Puritan and Enlightenment epochs that helped establish an American identity and literary culture. In the class we explore the various texts (histories, sermons, personal narratives, fictions) in an effort to determine interlocking patterns in texts from the 17th and 18th centuries. These works necessarily must be understood in a Transatlantic setting of transmission, adoption and rejection, inquiring into the prevalence of British and European influence on the emerging American novel. How indebted to Cervantes and Swift is Hugh Henry Brackenridge? Is The Power of Sympathy simply a trans-iteration of Richardson’s Pamela? Is Edgar Huntly an allegorical challenge to the English/American treatment of the Native American. Is the novel of sentiment a rigorous template the role women are to play in the new republic or is it subversive call for sisterhood and an end to the culture of coverture? The texts we will explore are tied closely to the emergence of the middle class and capitalism, which was rhizomorphous, comprising sociological, political, philosophical, economic and religious concerns. Ultimately, when asked about the Early American Narrative/Novel, the student should be able to discuss, not only the texts themselves, but the body of works as a cultural artifact that is as much a participant in as a reflection of its culture and its dominant ideologies.
Brackenridge, Hugh Henry. Modern Chivalry. Ed. Ed White. Hackett Pub. Co., 2009.
Brown, Charles Brockden. Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker. Ed. Jay
Fliegelman. N.Y.: Penguin Classics, 1991. ISBN 978-0-14-039062-9
………Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist. Ed. Norman Grabo. N.Y.:
Penguin Classics, 1988. ISBN 978-0-14-039079-7.
Brown, William Hill. The Power of Sympathy and Foster, Hannah. The Coquette.
Ed. Carla Mulford. N.Y.: Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0-14-043468-2.
Philbrick, N. and Philbrick T. The Mayflower Papers. N.Y.: Penguin Classics, 2007.
Tyler, Royall. The Algerine Captive: the Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike
Underhill: Six Years a Prisoner among the Algerines. Cosimo
Classic, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1616402990
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Students will write two formal and highly focused research papers, the first eight pages and the second 12 pages in length. (For those students who are so inclined, they may elect to write a single paper that is 20 pages in length, viewing it as a possible precursor to the MA portfolio or doctoral dissertation.) Students should consult with the instructor before embarking on their papers regardless of the length. Additionally, each student will write two brief papers on a particular author or problem associated with the works we are reading. The brief papers are valued at 20 percent of the final grade. If a student chooses to write two long papers, each paper will be valued at 40 percent. A single lengthy paper will be valued at 80 percent of the final grade.
It’s obvious that attendance and class participation are essential to the success of the seminar and the student’s grasp of the material. More than one unexcused absence may result in a lowering of one's grade. In that each meeting represents a week of classes, one is likely to fall behind if absent. Please make every effort to be at our weekly gatherings.
Also, when in doubt, please talk to me. Even the most basic class issues about assignments or readings are worth talking about if you have any questions.
Also, please: voice your opinions; ask your questions; offer your insights! Participation invigorates a seminar.
Please refrain from using electronic devises in the seminar. They tend to be disruptive.