English 331: American Literature Survey
Professor Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
This course examines selected texts in American literature from the beginnings to 1865.
Lauter, Paul et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Second Edition. Vol. 1. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1994.
The aim of this survey is to expose some critical problems involved in the redefining of American literature, i.e. accounting for what the territory includes. Selected works are studied in relation to historical events and ideas. The general objectives are:
* To gain an awareness of how the plurality of American culture is reflected in the nation's literature
* To discover how writers used literary forms to shape ideas about American values and experiences
* To increase sensitivity to the language, themes, and world views in the works that constitute American literature
Class attendance--Students are expected to attend all classes.
Written work--In addition to brief papers on selected works or assigned library research exercises, students must write a term essay (8-10 pp.) on a work not studied in the course. The proposal for the essay must be submitted on October 3, 1994. All written work must be typed.
Schedule of Readings, Quizzes, and Papers
29 Aug Introduction to the course
31 Aug "Colonial Period to 1700," pp. 1-27
2 Sep "Talk Concerning the First Beginnings," pp. 27-41; "The Origin of Stories," pp. 56-58.
7 Sep Columbus, pp. 116-125; Cabeza de Vaca, pp. 130-140; John Smith, pp. 184-198.
9 Sep Paper #1: Images used to characterize the "New" World
9-12 Sep Thomas Morton, pp. 211-223; William Bradford, pp. 245-266; "Iroquois or Confederacy of the First Nations, `pp. 59-62; Roger Williams, pp. 267-287;The Bay Psalm Book and The New England Primer, pp. 326-338
14 Sep QUIZ 1
16-19 Sep Anne Bradstreet, pp. 289-312; Phillis Wheatley, pp. 1048-1066
23 Sep Paper #2: Wheatley's Double Consciousness
23-26 Sep Mary Rowlandson, pp. 340-366; Cotton Mather, pp. 419-428; Jonathan Edwards, pp . 561- 595 .
28-30 Sep No class. Read Benjamin Franklin, pp. 708-711, 724-735, 745-751; "The Autobiography," pp. 753-763 for discussion on 3 Oct; read also de Crèvecoeur, pp. 821-835; Thomas Jefferson, pp. 887-909.
3 Oct Term essay proposal; discussion of Franklin; Paper #3: Rowlandson's use of the Bible and scriptural allusion in narrating her captivity and restoration
5-12 Oct Samson Occom, 939-947; William Apess, pp. 1780-1786; David Walker, pp. 1810-1821; Frey Carlos Delgado, pp. 1211 1217; Francisco Palou, pp. 1217-1226.
14-21 Oct "Early Nineteenth Century," pp. 1228-1260; George Fitzhugh, pp. 1912-1922; SarahGrimké, pp. 1935-1942; Frederick Douglass, pp. 1666-175; Harriet Jacobs, pp. 1751-1778.
24 Oct QUIZ 2
26 Oct-11 Nov Catharine Sedgwick, pp. 1346-1361; Edgar Allan Poe, pp. 1410-1422; Copway, pp. 1482 -1497; Emerson, pp. 1498-1596; Sarah Fuller, pp. 1634-1662; Henry David Thoreau, pp. 2012-2029; Nathaniel Hawthorne, pp. 2178-2315.
14 Nov QUIZ 3
16 Nov-7 Dec Herman Melville, pp. 2440-2470, pp. 2497-2554; William Wells Brown, pp. 2628-2640; American Poetic Voices, pp. 2682-2704; Walt Whitman, pp. 2740-2832; Emily Dickinson, pp. 2869-2952.
2 Dec Paper #4: Melville's sources for "Benito Cereno"
7 Dec Term essay due
Directions for Papers and Term Essay
Paper # 1 - due September 9, 1994
Topic: Images of the New World
Instructions: Itemize the images used by Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca, and John Smith as they attempt to characterize the "New World" for their European readers. Think critically about ways the images might have influenced a reader. Write a brief paper (3 to 4 pages) that addresses this question: Do Columbus, de Vaca, and Smith use images to present reliable descriptions or to manipulate readers?
Paper #2 -- due September 23, 1994
Topic: Phillis Wheatley's Double Consciousness
Instructions: Read DuBois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings' in The Souls of Black Folk. Then analyze Wheatley's "To the University of Cambridge, in New England" in light of DuBois's theory of double consciousness. Discuss in your paper (3 to 4 pages) how Wheatley's poem illustrates the theory
Term Essay Proposal --due October 3, 1994
The term essay must focus on issues in a work produced before 1865. Your proposal should specify what your topic is, contain a working thesis, and provide a statement that describes how you plan to develop the thesis. Indicate in your proposal whether L. Zenobia Coleman Library has the materials you will need to do the research for your essay.
Paper #3 -- due October 3, 1994
Topic: Rowlandson's Narrative
Instructions: Consider how Rowlandson's narrative as a genre juxtaposes real events with biblical comparisons or equivalents. In a paper of no more than 3 pages, describe how Rowlandson uses the Bible and scriptural allusions in narrating her captivity and redemption.
Paper #4 -- due December 2, 1994
Topic: Melville's Sources for "Benito Cereno"
Instructions: Read the explanatory footnote (pp. 2497-2498) very carefully and then read background information on the Amistad revolt (1839), e.g. Howard Jones, Mutiny on the Amistad (Oxford UP, 1987) and John Quincy Adams, Argument in the Cast of the United States vs. Cinque (1841; rpt. Arno Press, 1969). You will also want to read chapters 9 and 10 in Sterling Stuckey's Going Through the Storm (Oxford UP, 1994), Critical Essays on Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno" (G.K. Hall/Macmillan, 1992) and commentary in Eric Sundquist's To Wake the Nations (Belknap/Harvard UP, 1983). In your paper describe the details of the Amistad revolt that Melville incorporated in his replotting of Captain Amasa Delano's Narrative of Voyages (1817).