ENGL313 - American Literature

U.S. democracy has been an experiment—a creative mixture of different, often-clashing ideas, bodies, and spaces that have coalesced into a collective national community.  Along this journey of national self-making, however, these elements of “difference” have not disappeared, but have surfaced and circulated in ways that have produced our very sense of what constitutes “America.”  This course will examine a body of major American literature that was produced between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Moving across this broad historical trajectory, we will have two primary goals:  (1) To examine the ways in which difference—e.g., race, gender, class, and sexuality—has been represented in American literature and (2) To contemplate the ways in which place—e.g., geography, region, and social hierarchy—has informed individual and collective identities. These issues will be anchored by attention to literary form and the social, cultural, political, and legal contexts that animate the societies in which these works come to fruition.  Reading a variety of texts from the colonial period to the dawn of Y2K, we will probe the ways in which American literature creatively shapes, reflects, and redacts our ideas of “America.”  


Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.