Early American Literatures:
30,000 B.C. to 1800 A.D.
Fall 1998


English 4307-001 Office Hrs.: T/TH 11-11:30 a.m.; 2-2:30 p.m.; evening by apt.
Instructor: Dr. Roemer 405 Carlisle Hall; 817-272-2729 voice mail
T/TH, 9:30-10:50 MWF by apt.: 405 CH
Phone 273-2692 If you leave a message, please include your name and phone #.

Course Objectives

-- Primary Goal: to examine the diversity of early American literatures (EAL). This is a (primary) "readings" course, though in class discussions we will examine the implications of using a variety of critical approaches. The major concepts of diversity analyzed include genre, culture, gender, geographical area, and historical era.
-- Secondary Goals: to enhance each student's research paper writing; to examine how the study of EAL relates to the development of the American literary canon

By the end of the course students who have done the readings, participated in the classes, and successfully completed the group presentations, the examinations, and the paper should have basic understandings of the diversity of pre-1800 American literatures and of the relationships between genre, culture, gender, region, and historical era and canon formation and also be able to integrate convincing textual analyses and with relevant ongoing critical discussion in a research paper.

Required Readings (Please use the editions available in the bookstore.)

Selections from The Heath Anthology of American Literature, THIRD EDITION, Vol. 1. Lauter, et al., eds.
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland. Kent State UP.
Handouts: see specific assignments listed below (HO)
(If you do not already have a copy - MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers)

Tentative Lecture/Discussion Topics, Assignments, Dates

The pace of the course varies between close examinations of individual texts and overviews of many. I hope this approach will create a course that has both intensity and breadth. (The page numbers refer to the Heath Anthology.)

Introduction: Overview of the course & The Evolution of EAL courses and Anthologies

Reading: EAL Syllabi & Tables of Contents (HO); Colonial Period (3-20)
Dates: 8/25, 27

The First American Literatures: Native American Oral Literatures

Readings: 21-24; 70-109;†24-69;
Dates: 9/1, 3


The "Discovery" of "America": Definitions, Utopian Visions, and Cultural Encounters

Readings: Yuchi, Creation of the Whites (115-116), Handsome Lake, How America Was Discovered (182-84), Columbus (125-28), de Vaca (128-40), Smith (192-98), Winthrop (223-34)
Date: 9/8, 10

1st Exam Date: 9/15

Public and Private Forms of Historical Expression

Public Histories

Readings: [Zuni, Talk Concerning the Beginning (27-41)], Morton (211-22), Bradford (245-266), de Vellagr· (162-72), Virgin of Guadalupe (474-82), de Otermin [Hopi, Pueblo Revolt ] (482-91), Mather (425-33), Byrd (548-67),
Date: 9/17, 22

Private Histories: Letters, Diaries, Journals, & Life Stories

Readings: North: Bradstreet (312-15), Rowlandson (340-66), Sewell (408-13)
Middle: Ashbridge (604-16), Woolman, (616-30)
Occom (979-86), Equiano (1018-50)
Date: 9/22, 24

American Revolutions (403-26)

A Private Revolution: Edward Taylor

Reading: Taylor (366-407)
Date: 9/29, 10/1

A Private - Public Revolution: Jonathan Edwards

Reading: Edwards (569-603)
Date: 10/6, 8

[Week of 10/12 : Work on Paper Prospectus, which is Due 10/27]

A Private & Public Synthesis: Male and Female Versions

Readings: Franklin (714-24, 762-819), John and Abigail Adams (902-09); Murray (1060-64)
Date: 10/20, 22


Public Manifestos

Readings: Paine (882-96); Jefferson (916-23), Hall (1008-17)), CrÈvecoeur (849-81), Tecumseh (HO), Seattle (1887-91)
Date: 10/27, 29 (The paper prospectus is due on 10/27.)

2nd Exam Date: 11/3

Euro-American Literary Genres

The Role of the Poet (See also Native American and Taylor.)
Read all of Bradstreet, Wheatley, and Freneau; for the rest, read as much as you like.

Readings: Bay Psalm Book (326-36), Wigglesworth (315-26), Bradstreet, (289-312), Cook (640-58), Wheatley (1095-1112), Freneau (1067-85), Barlow (1128- 29,1135-47). Dwight (1086-94)
Date: 11/5, 10, 12

Dramatic Manners, Satiric Barbs

Reading: Tyler's The Contrast (1147-88); Murray, Epilogue (1065-67)
Date: 11/17

Paper Due Date: 11/24

The "American" "Novel"?

Readings: Rowson, Charlotte Temple (1215-26), Foster, The Coquette (1194-1215) , Brown, Wieland
Dates: 11/19,24, 26, 12/1

Review for Final Exam 12/6

Final Exam Date: 12/10, 8 a.m.


Group Presentations, Exams, Papers, Grades

Group Presentations

At the beginning or end of almost every session I will divide the class into small groups. Each group will be assigned a question related to the next week's session when groups will initiate the discussion of their "assigned" questions.



The three exams will consist of essay questions calling for application and evaluation rather than regurgitation. I will distribute study sheets and discuss each exam in detail during the class preceding the test. I will be concerned with the logic of your claims and with your ability to support the claims with relevant material from the readings.

Prospectus & Research Paper: 2500-3500 wds., double-spaced, "typed" ; due 11/24.

This paper will offer you the opportunity to do intensive independent study about a relatively narrow topic of interest to you and will help you to develop your ability to analyze texts and to use bibliographic and critical studies. The paper is not intended to be a bibliographic essay; I expect you to develop and articulate an argument that will be clarified and supported with textual analyses and well-integrated allusions to relevant critical studies. The prospectus (due 10/27) must include the following sections: statements/ descriptions of (1) the claim/thesis including the scope of the paper; (2) the significance of the claim/thesis; (3) the critical approach(es); (4) tentative organization; and (5) highly selected critical source list. See the detailed attachment describing research resources for EAL and one way to approach this paper. Note that the Heath Anthology offers brief primary and secondary source lists. MLA form is required.

Grades, Etc. Etc.

Approximate Weights: First Exam (10%); Second Exam (25%); Prospectus/Research Paper (40%); Final Exam: (25%). Warnings: (1) Plagiarism will be handled according to University disciplinary procedures. (2) If you plan to withdraw, you must follow university procedures. (3) Each five unexcused absences will reduce the semester grade by a half grade. (4) Under normal circumstances, I do not accept late work. Encouragement: (1) I am very willing to accommodate students with disabilities. These students should identify themselves at the beginning of the semester and provide me with authorized documentation from the appropriate University office. (2) Class participation (especially in the assigned group presentations) and improvement can be important factors in elevating the semester grade.