Fall 2015 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
"For we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill." John Winthrop, 1630
"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." Thomas Jefferson, 1787
Early American Literature explores the richness and variety of literary texts written in and about America from the early 1500s to 1800. In particular, we will concentrate on Colonial and Federalist writers from the North and the South, as America realizes itself in texts as much as in works. We will examine a sweep of literary forms -- history, fiction, poetry, sermons, political tracts, diaries, essays, personal narratives and poetry -- that were written by divergent voices over a period of more than two 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. We will pay particular attention to such large issues as God and nation, democracy and slavery, Nature and man, spiritual and physical journeys, rhetorical construction of identity, and the complex concept that Americans are a people of the word. It also might be argued that Early American Literature serves to ground the students in their nation's textual origins and its enduring myths, reinvigorating the old adage that "the past is not dead; it's not even past."
To be announced at a later date.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Students will write a single, formal, highly-focused research paper that is 20 pages in length. Students should consult with the instructor before embarking on their principal paper. It is hoped that students will discover a topic that intrigues them and merits formal investigation. Additionally, students will write two brief papers (no more than four
pages each in length) on a particular author or problem associated with the works we are reading. I'll suggest topics for the shorter papers.
The lengthy paper will be valued at 80 percent of the final grade while the short papers will be valued at 10 percent each. We will elaborate on the formal requirements at our first seminar session.