Spring 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
The term "American Renaissance" was coined in 1941 by the scholar F. O. Matthiessen, who was fascinated by "how great a number of our past masterpieces were produced in one extraordinarily concentrated moment of expression." This moment seemed to him a renaissance or re-birth, and it is with an eye toward the experimentalism of the texts that we will approach them. What does it mean to write at the beginning, we will ask, to create a national literature where none has existed previously? How does such writing go about formulating—and inventing—many ideas that we take for granted today, such as America, freedom, life, death, nature, beauty and, perhaps most of all, self? Our goal will be to understand these ideas in their context and in ours, and to pursue how they continue to speak to the way we read and live as Americans.
Writers we will read include Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Douglass, Melville, Dickinson, and Whitman.
Books for the course will be ordered at Off-Campus Books & the on-campus book store. Most texts will be available through the e-reserves system.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Faithful attendance; diligent reading; regular brief writing assignments; 6-8 page paper