Syllabus #3

English 247 A: American Writers I
Fall 1991

Professor Helen Westra
Grand Valley State University

Required Text: The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter, et al.

Course Focus:

This course will examine the emergence and progress of authentic American literary genius and creativity from the early discovering and colonizing of America to the mid-nineteenth century. In addition to many of the writers who already have name recognition (for example, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe) we'll be reading writings by women, Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans who until very recently were omitted from the body of works called American literature.

Course Goals:

1. To gain an awareness of the variety of cultures within the American culture and how this variety is reflected by American writers from many ethnic and national backgrounds.

2. To explore how these writers shaped our emerging nation and how our emerging nation influenced them.

3. To be conscious of the particular social, political, and religious contexts surrounding a writer's work.

4. To discover the unique and effective ways American writers used different literary forms (journal, narrative, sermon, essay, folk tale, drama, poetry, short story, novel) to achieve their particular purposes and effects.

5. To increase in sensitivity to metaphor, symbol, language, themes, structure, style, and world view in the works of the writers who comprise our nation's literary heritage.

Schedule for Reading Assignments:

Sept 3: Course Introduction, Overview, and Syllabus

Native Americans and European Views of the New World

(we look at several handouts and selections from our text)

Sept 10: Spanish, French, and English Arrivals in America

Columbus 67-80; Cabeza de Vaca 89-99; Pedro de Aviles 106-11; Samuel de Champlain 131-136; John Smith 149-160; Richard Frethorne 172-175

Sept 17: English Settlers

Thomas Morton 176-77 and 179-188;William Bradford 210-11 and 215-229 (chp IX-XXXIII); John Winthrop 188-90, "Journal" 204-210, and "John Winthrop's Christian Experience" 199-203; Roger Williams -- "To the Town Of Providence" 254-55 (we'll skim the rest of his work in class)

Sept. 24: Cultural Tensions in the Colonies

Anne Bradstreet 256, "The Prologue" 258, "The Flesh and the Spirit" 269-71, some personal poems, 272-77; Edward Taylor 342-46, "The Preface," 349-50, "The Souls Groan" 350-51, "Huswifery" 363, "Upon Wedlock, Death of Children" 363-65, "Prologue," 366-67; Mary Rowlandson 317-342 A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration (captivity narrative); John Williams 425-30, from The Redeemed Captive; Returning to Zion

Oct. 1: Social and Religious Tensions

Sarah Kemble Knight 472-90, Journal of Madame Knight; Jonathan Edwards 512-16, "Resolutions" 516-20, "Personal Narrative" 544-55, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" 555-66; John Woolman 590-92, Journal 593-604; Elizabeth Ashbridge 579-90; Women's Poetry Before the Revolution 641-42; Jane Colman Turell 642; Bridget Richardson Fletcher 643-46; Lucy Terry 654-55; Poems Published Anonymously 674-77

Oct. 8: What's An American?

Gustavus Vassa 694, from Interesting Narrative of the Life of...Vassa, the African. Written by Himself 695-712; Occom (Mohegan Indian) 728 "A Short Narrative of My Life" 730-35; Aupaumut (Mahican Indian chief) 751-756; Fray Carlos Delgado 756-61; Thomas Jefferson 957-64; J. Hector de Crevecoeur 890-91,892-907 excerpts from Letters from an American Farmer, especially Letter III "What is an American?"; Phillis Wheatley: 712-14, 714-15, 718 "On Being Brought from Africa to America," 720, letter on 727-728

Oct 15: Creating American Identities

Royall Tyler: The Contract 1089-1133; Benjamin Franklin 776-780, also excerpts from The Autobiography 823-81

Oct 22: Slavery and Abolitionism

Frederick Douglass 1637-39, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave 1647-1682; Harriet Ann Jacobs 1723-25, 1725-50; Lydia Maria Child 1795-97, "Slavery's Pleasant Homes" 11809-12; Harriet Beecher Stowe 2307-10, from Uncle Tom's Cabin 2311-23

Oct 29: American Versions of Transcendentalism

Margaret Fuller 1580-81, Woman in the Nineteenth Century 1604-26; Ralph Waldo Emerson 1467-70, from Nature 1474-86; Henry Thoreau 1964-66, from Walden 1981-2008

Nov 5: American Fiction Begins to Blossom

Edgar Allan Poe 1322-25, "The Fall of the House of Usher" 1344-57; "The Oval Portrait" 1362-64; "Masque of the Red Death" 1364-68; "The Tell-Tale Heart" 1369-72; "The Purloined Letter" 1372-85

Nov. 12: Sentimental and Epistolary Novels

Hannah Webster Foster 1131, from The Coquette; or, the History of Eliza Wharton, 1133-1152; Catharine Maria Sedgwick 1308, from Hope Leslie 1309-22

Nov. 18: More Varieties of American Fiction

Nathaniel Hawthorne 2065-69; "Young Goodman Brown" 2082-91; "The Minister's Black Veil" 2092-2100; "The Birth-mark" 2101-211; "Rappaccini's Daughter" 2112-23

Nov. 26: Responses to Transcendentalism

Herman Melville 2400-04; "Benito Cereno" 2464; "Bartleby, the Scrivener" 2405

Dec. 3: American Poetic Voices

Philip Freneau 1042, "The Wild Honey Suckle," 1062; "On Observing a Large Red-Streak Apple" 1066; Edgar Allan Poe "The Raven" 1403; "Annabel Lee" 1410; Aztec Poetry "The Singer's Art" 2663; Walt Whitman 2709-12 (Song of Myself) lines 1-256 and 1225-end; Emily Dickinson 2838; poems 219, 249, 258, 303, 315, 324, 441, 465

Dec. 10: Final exam

Contents, No. IX