Fall 2014
- Seminar in Language and Literature: Literary Maryland

Literary Maryland surveys the prose, poetry and theater of the Free State. We will begin our exploration in the colonial era, looking at such works as the General Assembly's "Act for the Liberties of the People" (1639), the travel diaries of Father Andrew White (1634), Ebenezer Cooke's satirical verse "The Sot-Weed Factor" (1708), Thomas Bluett's slave narrative "Some Memories of the Life of Job, the Son of Solomon, the High Priest of Boonda in Africa," and Thomas Cradock's pastoral "Maryland Eclogues" (c. 1744). Our main concerns will be the relation between Maryland and England, religious controversy, slavery's impact on Maryland's society and culture, literary representations of the Chesapeake and Maryland's landscape, and interactions between native peoples and the colonizing Europeans. Our next stop will be the post-Revolutionary and antebellum period in Maryland. Among the works we'll be reading are: "The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert" (c. 1800), Francis Scott Key's "The Defence of Fort McHenry" (1814), John Neal's "The DownEasters" (1833), the slave narrative "Life and Adventure of Charles Ball (1837), Edgar Allen Poe's "The Premature Burial" (1844), and Frederick Douglass's "My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). These readings will help us understand the importance of black creative expression in Maryland history, the impact of ongoing industrialization on the Free State, and the development of what historian Robert J. Brugger calls Maryland's "middle temperament," an orientation born out of the states location on the border between north and south. In the final section of the course we'll study Maryland's literature after the Civil War up to the 21st century, including: David Belasco's play "The Heart of Maryland," (1895), Waters E. Turpin's "These Low Grounds" (1937), John Barth's "The End of the Road" (1958), Rafael Alvarez's "Hometown Boy: The Hoodle Patrol and Other Curiosities of Baltimore" (1999), Laura Lippman's "Hardly Knew Her" (2008), as well as the poetry of Folger Mckinsey, Gilbert Byron, Dave Smith, Julia Randall, Lucille Clifton, Linda Pastan, and more. Here we'll focus on racism and civil rights as seen in the literature of Maryland, the representation of environmental repair and collapse in Maryland, the deindustrialization of Baltimore and the growth of the suburbs, and the middle temperament today. A single semester is not enough time to read all of the literature of Maryland, but the syllabus is ambitious and covers a large cross-section. In addition to the poetry, prose, and drama, students will be reading Brugger's "Maryland, A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980." The course includes four required excursions, one to the Maryland Historical Society, one to the Maryland African American History & Culture Museum, one to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and a fourth of your choosing. Grades will be based on a series of response papers, a digital essay, and a final exam.


Junior standing or higher; and must be in English Language and Literature program. Permission from the Director of Honors required.


Repeatable to 9 credits if content differs. Course intended primarily for students in English Honors Program. English majors with strong academic records may also apply.