American Literary Tradition: To Whitman
Professor: Josh Roiland
Phone: 314-550-9156
Office Hours: W 5-6 pm

“I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –”
—Emily Dickinson, “Poem 466”

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

Course Description
This course is devoted to the study of early American literature. Early being a relative term, we will begin with Native American creation stories, move through Spanish conquests, European settlements, African enslavements, Indian removals, the American Revolution, Westward expansion, and the Civil War. Literature also being a relative term, we will read letters, essays, speeches, poems, short stories and excerpts from novels. We will explore how historical and cultural conditions influenced writers, how writers have constructed and contested the idea of America, and how those ideas produced nearly all of today’s American myths: American Dream, We the People, City Upon a Hill, etc.

Course Goals
This course has three objectives: 1) to examine the diversity of early American literatures and the diverse ways to study this topic; 2) to discuss how the study of early American literature relates to the development of the American literary canon; and 3) to enhance students’ ability to compose reader-response papers and a short research paper that demonstrates the ability to analyze texts convincingly while integrating discussions of secondary sources.

Required Texts
Nina Baym, ed., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 7th ed., Vol. A, B (New York: W.W.
Norton & Company), 2007.

Class Requirements & Policies
• Daily attendance (See attendance policy below)
• Completion of all reading and writing assignments (Late papers drop a full grade each day)
• Twelve Reading Reflections
• In-Class Midterm Exam
• Final Paper (No late papers accepted)

• Class Participation—20%
• Eleven Reading Reflections—30%
• Midterm Test—20%
• Final Paper—30%

                              Reading & Writing Schedule

Week 1—The Beginning
Iroquois Creation Story 17-21
Pima Stories of the Beginning of the World 21-31

Week 2—Of Spaniards, Pilgrims, and Puritans (68p.)
Christopher Columbus, from “Letter to Luis de Santangel…” 32-33 (1493)
Christopher Columbus, from “Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella…” 33-35 (1503)
Bartolome de las Casas, from The Very Brief Relation of the Devastation of the Indies 36-39 (1552)
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, from The Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca 41-48 (1542)
John Smith, from “What Happened till the First Supply” 57-66 (1624)
William Bradford, from “The Remainder of Anno 1620” 120-126 (1620)
John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” 147-158 (1630)
Anne Bradstreet, selected poems 188-214 (1650-1669)

Week 3—Captivity and Enslavement (54p.)
Mary Rowlandson, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration…” 235-267 (1682)
Selected Authors, re: Hannah Dustan’s Captivity & Revenge 343-353
Selected Authors, Native Americans: Contact and Conflict 437-449

Week 4—Revolutionary Politics (36p.)
Ben Franklin, “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America,” 463-468 (1782)
J.Hector St. John de Crevecouer, from “What is an American” 596-605 (1782)
Thomas Paine, from Common Sense 630-637 (1776)
Thomas Jefferson, from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson 651-657 (1829)
Selected Authors, from The Federalist 666-674 (1787)

Week 5—Early Fiction & Poetry (58p.)
Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle” 953-965 (1819)
Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” 965-985 (1820)
Catharine Maria Sedgwick, from Hope Leslie 1010-1023 (1827)
Lydia Howard Huntly Sigourney, selected poems 1029-1044 (1827-1860)

Week 6—Ralph Waldo Emerson (22p.)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” 1163-1180 (1841)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet” 1180-1195 (1844)

Week 7—Romantic Men (42p.)
Nathanial Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown,” 1289-1298 (1835)
Nathanial Hawthorne, “The May-Pole of Merry Mount” 1304-1311 (1835)
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” 2363-2389 (1853)

Week 8—Scribbling Women??? (36p.)
Lydia Maria Child, Letter XXXIV, 1096-1100 (1843)
Lydia Maria Child, Letter XXXVI, 1100-1106 (1843)
Margaret Fuller, “Fourth of July” 1675-1677 (1845)
Fanny Fern, all columns 1794-1803 (1851-1858)
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, selected poems & essays, 2539-2554 (1853-1859)

Week 9—MIDTERM (O p.)
In-Class Midterm Test

Week 10—Slave Narratives (86p.)
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass… 2064-2129 (1845)
Margaret Fuller, Review of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass… 1673-1674 (1845)
Harriet Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 1809-1829 (1861)

Week 11—Halloween (42p.)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven” 1536-1539 (1845)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” 1553-1565 (1839)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death” 1585-1589 (1842)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” 1589-1592 (1843)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Black Cat” 1593-1599 (1843)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Purloined Letter” 1599-1611 (1844)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado” 1612-1616 (1846)

Week 12—Labor, Art, and Industry (36p.)
Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills, 2599-2625 (1861)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Village Blacksmith” (1841)
Andrew Carnegie, from The Gospel of Wealth (1900)
Fanny Fern, “The Working Girls of New York” and “Sewing Machines” (1867, 1853)
Anonymous, “Factory Life—Romance and Reality” (1867)
James Jackson Jarves, “An Inquiry into the Art Conditions and Prospects of America” (1864)

Week 13—Emily Dickinson (43p.)
Emily Dickinson, all poems 2554-2597 (1858-1885)

Week 14—NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)

Week 15—Walt Whitman (61p.)
Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” 2210-2254 (1855)
Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” 2263-2267 (1856)
Walt Whitman, “Cavalry Crossing a Ford” 2276 (1865)
Walt Whitman, “Vigil I Kept on the Field One Night” 2276-2277 (1865)
Walt Whitman, “The Wound Dresser” 2279-2280 (1865)
Walt Whitman, “When Lilacs Las in the Dooryard Bloom’d” 2282-2289 (1868)
Walt Whitman, “A Noiseless, Patient Spider” 2288 (1868)

Final Paper Due: Wednesday, December 12

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