Gillian H Harkins
Introduces American culture through a careful reading of a variety of representative texts in their historical contexts.
For SUMMER 2007: National Belongings. This course provides an introduction to studies of American literature and culture. The course surveys a broad range of historical materials, from Puritan proclamations of American Exceptionalism to political and literary texts of the early Republic, mid-nineteenth-century texts on abolition and Manifest Destiny to mid-twentieth-century texts on the Cold War and civil rights. We will focus in particular on how “America” has been constructed through changing narratives of national history. This summer we will ask how different narratives create or contest the meaning of belonging in national history. What does it mean to “belong” in the United States? How have practices of national belonging changed over time, and how have different narratives about history been used to make sense of these changes? In this class we will explore the ways that changing narratives forms – from oral speeches, newspapers to popular music and animation – have shaped the making and re-making of the American past. Our primary texts will include Charles Brockton Brown, Wieland: Or, The Transformation; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Salve Girl; Herman Melville, Benito Cereno, and John Okada, No No Boy.
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