ENG*209*11 Description


Introduction to American Literature I


Taught in the fall semester, the course is concerned with the establishment of American Literature as a school subject. Texts that have achieved the status of "classics" of American Literature, such as Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Thoreau's Walden, and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be read in the context of the history and politics of their achieving this status. Texts traditionally excluded from the canon of American literature, in particular early Hispano- and Franco-American texts, will be considered in the context of their relative marginality to the project of establishing American Literature in the American academy. Other-than-written materials, such as modern cinematic representations of the period of exploration and colonization of North America, as well as British Colonial portraits and history paintings, will be studied for how they reflect on claims for the cultural independence of early America. Other-than-American materials, such as late medieval and early Renaissance Flemish and Hispanic still lifes, as well as the works of nineteenth-century European romantic poets and prose writers, will be sampled for how they reflect on claims for the exceptional character of American culture.