Proposed for a future semester, this course will cover American literature from its beginnings (a vagueness we will probe – when does American literature begin?) up to 1899. Beginning with the Puritans and William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, we will trace themes of wickedness and impurity across the works of Bradford’s successors, examining how these ideas influence and shape early-American literature. Many of our initial readings will be nonfiction (diaries, letters, sermons, pronouncements) and will become more fiction heavy towards the later 18th century into the 19th century. One link I hope we will explore is how nonfiction writing influences fiction writers and vice-versa. While we will cover some historical and cultural contexts, the focus of the course will be on learning the techniques and tools of literary analysis. Students will produce artifacts that may include traditional essays, book cover designs, infographics, and podcasts.
Books for this course will include the Norton Anthology of American literature to 1865 and Frank Norris's McTeague (1899).