Department of English Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
Course Descriptions

This course is designed to familiarize students with some of the important American literary texts and movements from the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.  Our readings will cover a wide swath of historical, generic, and thematic ground, but each reading will also demand an attention to the depth and complexity of its unique textual features.  We will read both fictional and non-fictional works in our examination of issues of colonial settlement, American Puritanism, identity and autobiography, slavery, women’s rights, New England Transcendentalism, and the development of American literature.  Throughout the course, we will focus on how the idea of “America” has been understood and represented, as well as how different groups have questioned or revised ideas of national identity.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

·         Demonstrate knowledge of the development of American literature from the first English explorations of North America in the sixteenth century, through the end of the nineteenth century.

·         Understand the relationships between different generations of American writers.

·         Have a critical understanding of how “America” has been variously defined through and in relation to the course readings.

·         Identify important American writings from the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, and relate these works to their historical context.

·         Interpret and analyze, both orally and in writing, the works of important American writers before 1890, with attention to issues of both breadth of coverage and depth of analysis.

Required Texts:

The following texts are available at the University of Memphis bookstore.  Should you wish to purchase your texts elsewhere, you must be certain to buy the specific editions and/or volumes indicated.

Baym, Nina, general ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Seventh edition, Vols. A & B. New York, W.W. Norton, 2007. ISBN: 9780393929935

Brown, Charles Brockden.  Wieland.  New York, W.W. Norton: 2010.  ISBN: 9780393932539.

Twain, Mark.  Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  New York, Signet Classics: 1963.  ISBN: 9780451524751.

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Last Updated: 3/6/12