L351 15877 AMERICAN LITERATURE 1800-1865
Bradley P. Dean

11:15a-12:05p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

The period 1800-1865 saw the emergence and first flowering of a distinctively American literature. What was “America” during this period? Who were “Americans”? And how might the spectrum of answers to those questions affect who and where we are today? This course offers the opportunity to begin, or perhaps to continue, addressing these three fascinating and complex questions by refracting answers through the prism of some of the period’s most representative and important literature. The principal activities of the course will be reading some of that literature—poems, short stories, essays, seven longer works: Frederick Douglass’s Narrative, Margaret Fuller’s Great Lawsuit, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature,” Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” and Melville’s “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby, the Scrivener”—and discussing it in class. At the conclusion of the course participants should be able to appreciate the concerns and achievements of the usual literary suspects of the period (Emerson, Hawthorne, Poe, Thoreau, Whitman, Melville) and a representative sampling of the period’s other important authors (Bryant, Whittier, Longfellow, Irving, Cooper, Jacobs, Douglass, Stowe, Child, Fern, Fuller, Lincoln).

Requirements in addition to reading and participation in class discussions (regular attendance): six informal writing assignments, two formal essays (each no more than 1500 words), two exams.