143 - 19th Century American Literature to the Civil War
The nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of a new world power: the United States of America. Territorial expansion, genocides, a fratricidal war, industrialization, as well as the formation of a strong national literary tradition mark the history and culture of this new power. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major literary figures and movements of antebellum U.S. literature. More specifically, we will read, think about, analyze, and critically respond to (orally as well as in writing) major works by authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglas. The selected primary works in the course outline will be studied alongside their socio-political, economic, and cultural contexts. Please note that rather than being organized chronologically by author, the works examined will be grouped under “debate topics,” such as “society versus the self,” “freedom versus bondage,” “utopia versus dystopia,” “nature versus nurture” etc.
Students are required to attend all class sessions and actively participate in class discussions. For this reason, it is essential that students study the assigned material in advance!
In-Class Quizzes: 10%
Short Comprehension Quizzes (multiple choice questions, gap-filling or matching tasks, short answer questions) will be assigned regularly, without prior warning, and will involve the week’s assigned reading(s).
Response Paper: 20%
Each student will be assigned a response paper to one of the recommended secondary sources in the course outline.
Mid-Term Exam: 20%
There will be a mid-term exam in which students will be asked to identify and briefly comment on key passages from the texts studied.
Research Paper: 20%
Each student will have to turn in a five-page research paper on one of the texts studied in class. Students will have to meet with the instructor and discuss their outline and secondary sources before submitting their final papers.
Final Exam: 20%
The final exam will involve a comprehensive argumentative essay on a controversial topic relevant to the scope of the class.
TextsThe Norton Anthology of American Literature, Eighth Edition, Volume B 1820-1865, Bayam
Additional readings will be assigned prior to class discussion, which will be available in photocopied folders for students. Students are responsible for any supplementary material distributed in class, which also constitutes part of the syllabus.