Syllabus #2

Introduction to American Literature
Spring 1990
Professor Paul Lauter

All readings are in The Heath Anthology of American Literature

Date Reading

1/18 First day of class

1/23 "To the Reader," pp. xxxiii-xxxix

Native American Traditions: pp. 3/7, 22-40, 59-60

1/25 The Spanish and the New World: pp. 7-10, 67-99 (Columbus, The Virgin of Guadalupe, Cabeza de Vaca), 120-131 (Villagrá), 52-55 (The Coming of the Spanish and the Pueblo Revolt, Hopi), 431-440 (The Pueblo Revolt and the Spanish Reconquest)

1/30 English Settlements: pp. 10-21, 146-159 (John Smith), 173-176 (Richard Frethorne); 210-221, 225-226 (William Bradford), 176-188 (Thomas Morton), 221-225 (William Bradford)

2/1 Some Puritan Writers: 317-342 (Mary Rowlandson), 512-516, 544-555, 540-544, 555-566 (Jonathan Edwards)

2/6 Puritan Poetry: 256-261, 272-277 (Anne Bradstreet), 308, 312, 342-346, 350-357, 360- 363, 373-374 (Edward Taylor)

2/8 Social and Cultural Tensions: 448-469, 581-590 (Elizabeth Ashbridge), 590-592, 604-610 (John Woolman), 756-762 (Delgado), 751-756, (Aupaumut), 641-646, 670- 677 (18th Century women poets)

2/13 Political Tensions and Visions: 774-776, 56-59 (Iroquois), 936-937, 940-955 (Paine), 957-964, 969-974, 978-981, 990-994 (Jefferson), 1007-1018 (Federalist), 821-822 (Franklin)

2/15 Who (What) Are Americans? 728-735 (Occum), 694-712 (Vassa), 712-715, 718, 720- 725 (Phillis Wheatley), 685-694 (Hall), 890-899, 906-907 (Crévecoeur), 1952-1963 (Vallejo)

2/27 Franklin: 776-783, 790-794, 823-867, 872-888

3/1 Exam

3/6 Constructing an American Mythology, I: 1214-1216, 1280-1294, 1299-1307 (Coo per), 1308-1322 (Sedgwick), 1451-1466 (Copway), 1760-1772 (Boudinot, Seattle)

3/8 American Mythology, II: 1024-1026, 1032-1039 (Murray), 1153-1163 (Rowson), 1238-1239, 1248-1260 (Irving), 1580-1582, 1604-1608, 1610-1611, 1617-1618, 1624- 1626 (Fuller)

3/13 Poe: 1322-1325, 1394-1395, 1403-1406, 1410-1411, 1391-1392, 1357-1362 (Eleonora), 1333-1357 ("Ligeia," " The Fall of the House of Usher"), 1325-1332 ("Ms. Found in a Bottle")

3/15 Versions of Transcendentalism: 1499-1528, 1467-1470 (Emerson), 1626-1630 (Fuller)

3/20 A Slave Narrative: Frederick Douglass: 1637-1676

3/22 Douglass: 1676-1704; Abolitionist Writing: 1781-1791 (David Walker, 1792-1795 (W. L. Garrison), 1813- 1818 (J. G. Whittier)

Spring Vacation

4/10 Abolitionist Writing: 1825-1834 (Angelina Grimké), 1964-1981 (H. D. Thoreau), 1915-1923, 1932-1933 (F. E. W. Harper); begin reading Stowe selection

4/12 Anti-Slavery Narratives: 2307-2358 (H. B. Stowe), 1723-1736, 1742-1750 (Harriet Jacobs)

4/17 Versions of Nature: 2286-2297, 2304-2307 (C. Kirkland), 1590-1595, 1598-1601 (M. Fuller), 1981-1991, 1998-2016 (H. D. Thoreau), 2895- 2896, 2861-2862 (Dickinson)

4/19 Hawthorne: 2065-2082 ("My Kins- man, Major Molineux"), 2082-2092 ("Young Goodman Brown"), 2112- 2132 ("Rappaccini's Daughter")

4/24 Varieties of Narrative: 1899-1906 (Fanny Fern), 2596-2613 (Alice Cary), 2614-2621 (Elizabeth Stod- dard), 2628-2637 (Harriet Wilson)

4/26 Melville: 2400-2464 ("Bartleby the Scrivener"; from "The Encantadas", "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids")

5/1 Many Poetic Traditions: 2638-2644, 2663-2671 (Aztec and Inuit), 2671- 2691 (Songs and Ballads), 2692-2697 (Bryant), 2702-2705, 2706-2707 (Longfellow)

5/3 Whitman: 2709-2712, 2788, 2727- 2778, 2790-2791

5/8 Dickinson: Poems and letters to be assigned

Student Reaction


What follows is an excerpt from Rebecca Garnett's journal. A student in Professor Lauter's Introduction to American Literature course, Rebecca wrote this entry in reaction to reading Caroline Kirkland.

The creation of a new home is a dynamic process, and it has fed an argument between my parents for as long as I can remember. I think my mother is similar to Kirkland in that she followed my father to the "frontier" of the back woods of Maine. My dad was not concerned so much with increasing his status or becoming upwardly mobile; rather his case was almost the opposite. He seemed to be isolating himself from a society that had failed him in some way and he was creating something that was completely his own. The story in a sense was more my father's than my mother's. I know that she was often lonely, and left on unstable grounds. The house was never completely finished for fifteen years, and she never had the satisfaction of starting her life again knowing that there was a 'home' established and there for her to return to.

My father set out to build a new house for us in the woods when I was three. I remember distinctly clearing the land, and the confusion that surrounded the process; the deafening sound of chainsaws, the grinding of the backhoe as it tore up stumps, and the drizzle of rain down my back on the days when the brush had to be burned. My sister Leah and I helped peel the logs that served as beams, and I remember hearing the crunching sound that the insects made as they bored their way through those same logs during the summer that the house was framed. I remember my mother crying because we were living in a shell that had poly for walls and a barrel stove for heat. She never had control, she couldn't predict when the helplessness would be over, it didn't match her dreams, and the reality of that life was almost more than she could bear. Anything that she tried to do to help wasn't good enough for my father's perfectionist standards, and it left her screaming in frustration in her idleness.

We would go to old antique barns and junk yards looking for windows with wavy glass that we could salvage. We found a few prizes amongst all the clutter; two tall arched windows that later served as the focal points in the living room and my parents' bedroom. Leah and I used to draw castles and unicorns on the bare sheetrock that were our walls for so many years, and the studs that supported those walls served as shelves for everything from dishwashing detergent to rainbow-painted rocks that surrounded our folding formica dining room table. My mother set her loom with determination in the middle of it all and wove wall hangings to cover the roughness.

My father's workshops down the hill from the house grew in dimension, and all the junk that he wouldn't throw away because he would "need it someday" expanded to cover the ground around them. Steel barrels, cinder blocks, old window frames, printer rollers, grey and splintered planks, shingles, wire, copper pipe, outlets, boxes of assorted nails, nuts and screws, machine parts, and many things I couldn't identify, all piled up against my mother's nerves and sense of beauty and order. It was always very embarrassing to give a friend directions to our house and then have them drive up our driveway, see my father's shops and turn around and drive out because they didn't think we lived there. My mother did the best that she could with the inside of the house, though, and she succeeded in turning it into a home full of interesting things to look at. I always loved it when I would bring kids home from school and watch their faces and hear them say, "Oh, wow, this place is really neat" as they stared out of a wall of windows into the depths of the green forest.

The house is one with its surroundings. When you walk into it from the north door, you are immediately looking out of tall windows facing south made of antique glass, and what you see outside reflects what you see inside. Natural wood, earthy hues, and open rooms surround you. The design is simple, but original. It's shaped like an L, with the inside of the angle facing south to catch the sun. There's only one level, and the ceilings are highest by the windows. My sister and I share a bedroom, and the only other enclosed rooms are my parents' bedroom and one bathroom.

It's nearly finished now and I can't imagine my family ever living anywhere else. The house and the land in many ways are the family. I have a hard time imagining myself in a house of my own someday, and being in the same position that my mother was once in--trying to establish a home for a family. That's why it is amazing to me that at one time women were often in the position where they had little choice but to follow their husbands across the frontier to build a house and then have to deal with the frequent decision made by the husband to pick up and leave what they had started, at any time, to seek out a better opportunity. It leaves me wondering: a better opportunity for who? I will not marry a man who thinks that he is the only self that has a valid and justified voice.

Contents, No. III