Suzanne C. Schmidt
Introduces American culture through a careful reading of a variety of representative texts in their historical contexts.
This course offers an introduction to American literature. We will do so from the perspective of writers whose communities were actively excluded from American citizenship. The course begins with an introduction to early ideas of what it means to be American through founding documents such as The Declaration of Independence. From there we will survey literature and other cultural artifacts throughout American history to determine how culture has shaped, responded to and challenged dominant concepts of who is American and what it means to be American. The readings in this course are meant to challenge a cohesive concept of American literary culture. Students will be asked to think about the ways that culture has been a means to engage in political debates; and we will do so by paying close attention to the specific historical context within which each piece of literature was written.
Primary texts will include a course reader as well as the following required texts: Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple, 1791. Harper, Francis. Iola Leroy or, Shadows Uplifted, 1892. Bulosan, Carlos. America is in the Heart, 1946. Bulter, Octavia. Kindred, 1979.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Daily journals, midterm, final and one group presentation.