Daniel J Griesbach
Conflicting visions of the national destiny and the individual identity in the early years of America's nationhood. Works by Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and such other writers as Poe, Cooper, Irving, Whitman, Dickinson, and Douglass.
Questioning Foundations in the Early Nation. This course is a study of American literature in the period leading up to the Civil War, including American Renaissance writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as a selection of other important authors such as Washington Irving, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglass, and Rebecca Harding Davis. Topical concern will be broad, with a general emphasis on discovering how these writers bring to the fore the dualisms taking shape in American society during a transformational and formative time. One can discover in these works striking visions of the new nation's optimism and potential amid contrasting perceptions of instability, inconsistency, and incoherence in American society; a struggle to understand the meaning of the American Revolution and how that revolution relates to the ongoing calls for liberation and reform; and a constant reevaluation of the disjunction between ideals and material facts, collective identity and individual experience. Evaluation of student progress will take the form of midterm and final exams, a series of short written responses to the readings, and a classroom participation component. Regular attendance, keeping up with the reading assignments, and participating in classroom discussion and activities are necessary for success in the course.
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