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COURSE

SYLLABUS
EN250 AMERICAN LITERATURE I

COURSE INFORMATION INSTRUCTOR INFORMATION


Term: Fall 2018 Name: Bruce Clary
Credit Hrs: 3 cr hrs Office: Deans’ Suite
Meeting Time: 8 a.m. MWF Office Hrs: By appointment
Classroom: Mohler 218 Email: claryb@mcpherson.edu
Prerequisites: NA Phone: 620.242.0506

COURSE DESCRIPTION
The principal goal of this course is to advance and diversify students’ knowledge of American
literature, 1500-1865, its social and cultural contexts, and its historical development. Class time will
also be devoted to techniques of critical reading, appreciation of aesthetic achievements, and
learning literary and critical terminology.
The course is organized chronologically and divided into eight cohesive units. Throughout the
semester, we will be examining the literature for what it tells us about our culture’s emphasis on
individualism. We will return to three concepts in particular—Freedom, Success, and Justice—for
insights into the American character. While much of the semester is given over to study of the major
authors of 1800–1865, the course readings liberally represent diverse voices, including Native
Americans, African Americans, and women as well as majority voices offering thoughtful analysis
and criticism of America’s Eurocentric culture and values.

STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES


In daily writings, class discussions, exams, and essays, students will
1. Demonstrate knowledge of American history and American social structures in the
period 1500-1865 by describing changes in social conditions, institutions, and basic
conceptions of the individual.
2. Analyze the tensions inherent within American society created by its emphasis on
individualism (as revealed in the literature) by (a) describing conflicts between personal
freedom and social responsibility embodied in individual literary works, the works of an
individual author, and particular historical moments or literary traditions; (b) drawing parallels
between situations experienced by authors or characters in the literature with contemporary
American situations; (c) identifying and discussing writers and/or characters whose position(s)
on self and society most nearly express/contradict their personal view.
3. Demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of American literature, 1500-
1865, of the roles played in that development by some of the major authors, and of works
representing landmarks in the history of American literature by (a) referring knowledgeably
to the historical development of American literature as a context for understanding individual
writers and works; (b) making informed arguments for the place of authors and their works in
the development of American literature; and (c) accurately dating, identifying, describing,
and/or defining i) authors and their works, and ii) important developments in the history of
American literature.
4. Demonstrate that they read carefully and critically by (a) comprehending and recalling
important textual and contextual details; (b) summarizing, paraphrasing, questioning,
interpreting and evaluating assigned readings; (c) explicating passages and explaining their
connection to larger artistic/thematic concerns; and (d) correctly using critical and literary
terms to discuss and describe the assigned works.
5. Demonstrate that they write effectively and purposefully by (a) responding to the
readings, effectively summarizing, paraphrasing, interpreting, and questioning the texts, and
(b) producing focused, informal responses to writing prompts and formal essays that clearly,
economically, and adequately develop a thesis demonstrating active, informed engagement
with the readings.

REQUIRED TEXTS
Paul Lauter et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Vols. A and B. 7th ed. Houghton
Mifflin: 2014.
Hannah Webster Foster. The Coquette. 1797. Ed. Cathy Davidson. Oxford UP, 1986.
EVALUATION AND GRADING
Informal, daily writings (30 percent of grade). Almost every class session will include a brief
writing assignment. As a rule, these will be written and shared in class; at times, however, these
may be homework assignments to bring with you to the next class. I will collect these short writings
and evaluate them as follows:
4 Demonstrates especially provocative and thoughtful engagements with the assigned
reading(s) and/writing prompt(s).
3 Demonstrates adequate, thoughtful engagements with the assigned reading(s) and/writing
prompt(s).
2 Suggests adequate, thoughtful engagements with the assigned reading(s) and/writing
prompt(s).
1 Demonstrates less than adequate acquaintance and/or thoughtful engagement with the
assigned reading(s) and/writing prompt(s).
Your daily writing grade will be based on a 3.5 points-per-entry standard. In other words, it is my
expectation that all your entries should meet the 3-point standard but that only about half will
attain the 4-point standard. Your three lowest daily writing scores will be dropped from the
gradebook.
If it becomes clear during class discussion that you have not completed the assigned reading for the
day, you will receive a zero for that day’s daily writing.
Out-of-class Unit Quizzes (20 percent of grade). The course readings are collected under eight
unit headings. Discrete quizzes will be administered over six of these units. Quizzes over the other

2 EN250 American Literature I


two units—the ones immediately preceding the midterm and the final exams—will be incorporated
into those out-of-class exams.
Unit exams will be brief. For example, given five passages from texts included in the unit, you may
be asked to choose three and write a paragraph about each. When appropriate, some objective
matching questions may be included. I will keep these quizzes brief so they should not subtract
significantly from the time you need to complete the next reading assignment.
Out-of-class midterm exam (20 percent of final grade) and final exam (30 percent of final
grade). Both major exams will be take-home exams. With the exception of the included unit exam
questions (see above), essay questions will comprise the exams. You will be provided with the
essay questions within the first few class meetings of each half term. In this way, you will be able to
begin thinking about—or even drafting—your exam essays as we progress through the semester.
The exam periods for both the midterm and final are set aside as a seminar for you to share and
discuss your essays. You should bring a copy of your exam for each member of the class. to the
seminars.
Grading scale. A = 91–100%; B = 81–90%; C = 71–80%; D = 61–70%; F = 60–below.

EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS


Attendance. If you notify me ahead of time that you will be absent for a legitimate reason, you can
make up any daily writing for full credit. Without prior notification, daily writings cannot be made
up for credit.
Barring extraordinary circumstances, four unexcused absences will result in a loss of one letter
grade in your final grade. (An unexcused absence is any absence you fail to notify me of in advance
or for which you have no legitimate cause.) If you accumulate seven unexcused absences, you will
fail the course.
Special injunction. You are responsible for seeing that this syllabus does not interfere with your
education. You can always do more work or different work (within reason) than the syllabus
requires. Consult with me if you wish to explore the possibilities for better adapting this course to
your needs.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
Honesty is fundamental to education. The college expects that both students and teachers will be
honest in all their academic dealings. Academic dishonesty includes (but is not limited to) cheating
on tests, turning in others’ work as your own (plagiarism), and making false reports about required
activities. A student guilty of academic dishonesty can be failed on the assignment or failed in the
course. Incidents of intentional academic dishonest are reported to the vice president for academic
affairs. Multiple reported incidents can result in suspension from the college.
In this class, instances of plagiarism in any assignment will result in a zero for the assignment or a
one-letter-grade deduction on the final grade, whichever is greater. Other instances of academic
dishonesty, e.g., lying about the reason you missed class or submitted an assignment late, will result
in one-letter-grade deduction. All such instances are noted into your permanent academic file.

EN250 American Literature I 3


DISABILITY STATEMENT
Students who, because of disability, may require reasonable accommodations to meet course
requirements should contact the instructor or access coordinator, Carole Barr (ext. 2506), as soon
as possible.

ACADEMIC SERVICES
The Royer Center for Academic Development (Miller Library, main level) is open to all students
who need academic assistance in any class.

DISCLAIMER
This syllabus is subject to modification. The instructor will communicate all substantial
modifications both to the Chief Academic Officer and to students enrolled in the course, prior to
enacting these modifications.

COURSE SCHEDULE
FIRST PEOPLES, FIRST ENCOUNTERS
W Aug 22 ....... Introduction to course
Seneca, “The Origin of Stories” (59-62)
F Aug 24 ....... Beginnings to 1700 (1-9)
Native American Narrative (23-26)
Lakota, “Wohpe and the Gift of the Pipe” (57-59)
Ojibway, “Man’s Dependence on Animals” (66-69)
Cherokee, “Origin of Disease and Medicine” (69-71)
Tlinglit, “Raven and Marriage” (72-77)
M Aug 27 ....... Ritual Poetry, Song, and Ceremony (84-86)
Native American Oral Poetry (87-106)
W Aug 29 ....... America in the World/The World in America (107-15)
New Spain (116-22)
Christopher Columbus (122-35)
Caveza de Vaca, Relation (144-61)
Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer” (handout)
F Aug 31 ....... Chesapeake (294-96)
John Smith, “Generall Historie of Virginia” (315-29)
Yuchi, “Creation of the Whites” (73)
Lenape, “The Arrival of the Whites” (74-77)
Handsome Lake, “How America Was Discovered” (825-27)

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PURITAN MISSION, PURITAN AESTHETIC
W Sept 5 ....... Beginnings to 1700 (9-17)
New England (359-64)
Winthrop, “Christian Charity” (378-96)
F Sept 7 ....... Preface to Bay Psalm Book (467-71)
Tillam, “Uppon first sight…” (593-94)
Bradstreet, poems (437-41, 445-55)
M Sept 10 ....... Taylor, poems (514-40)
WHAT IS AN AMERICAN?
W Sept 12 ....... Eighteenth Century (613-31)
Voices of Revolution and Nationalism (907-09)
Crévecouer, Letters from an American Farmer (1006-45)
F Sept 14 ....... Franklin, “The Way to Wealth” (910-19)
Autobiography (983-94)
M Sept 17 ....... Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1080-1101)
W Sept 19 ....... Jefferson, Letters to Madison (1104-06)
Federalist and Anti-Federalist Contentions (1118-34)
Jefferson, correspondence with John Adams (1076-79)
F Sept 21 ....... Royall Tyler, The Contrast, Acts I-II (1401-23)
M Sept 24 ....... Tyler, The Contrast, Acts II-V (1424-47)
THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN WOMAN IN FICTION AND POETRY
W Sept 26 ....... Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette (3-54)
F Sept 28 ....... Foster, The Coquette (55-108)
M Oct 1 ....... Foster, The Coquette (108-69)
W Oct 3 ....... Eighteenth-Century Anglo-American Poetry (781-85)
Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes” (1297-99, 1305-13)
Turell, poems (826-28)
Fletcher, poems (handout)
Stockton, poems (831-35)
Anonymous poems by women (857-59)
F Oct 5 ....... Out-of-class midterm exam seminar
RACE, SLAVERY, AND THE INVENTION OF THE SOUTH
M Oct 8 ....... “The Debates over Racism and Slavery” (1553-58)
Race, Slavery, and the Invention of the South (2104-05)
Walker, “Appeal” (2105-18)
Garrison, editorial (2118-22)
Grimké, “Appeal” (2144-54)
Fitzhugh, from Southern Thought (2293-2304)
W Oct 10 ....... Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (2235-51)
F Oct 12 ....... No Class—Fall Break
M Oct 15 ....... Harriet Beecher Stowe, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin (2770-2815)

EN250 American Literature I 5


W Oct 17 ....... No Class—See online activities on Bulldog Connect eLearning
F Oct 19 ....... No Class— See online activities on Bulldog Connect eLearning
M Oct 22 ....... No Class—See online activities on Bulldog Connect eLearning
THE “DARK ROMANTICS”: HAWTHORNE, POE, MELVILLE
W Oct 24 ....... Nathaniel Hawthorne (2603-06)
“Young Goodman Brown” & “Minister’s Black Veil” (2621-41)
F Oct 26 ....... “The Birthmark” & “Rappaccini’s Daugher (2641-76)
M Oct 29 ....... Edgar Allan Poe (2691-94)
“Ligeia” & “The Fall of the House of Usher” (2694-2720)
W Oct 31 ....... “Philosophy of Composition,” “The Poetic Principle,” and selected poems, TBA
(2745-68)
F Nov 2 ....... Hermann Melville (2846-49)
“Bartleby, the Scrivener” (2850-78)
THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS: EMERSON, THOREAU, WHITMAN
M Nov 5 ....... Ralph Waldo Emerson (1822-25)
from Nature: “Nature” (1825-28) & “Language” (1833-38)
“Self-Reliance” (1868-87)
W Nov 7 ....... Henry David Thoreau (1976-79)
“Resistance to Civil Government” (1979-95)
F Nov 9 ....... from Walden (1996-2034)
M Nov 12 ....... Walt Whitman (3218-3222)
Emerson, “The Poet” (1887-1903)
“Song of Myself” (3238-86)
W Nov 14 ....... “Song of Myself” (cont.)
F Nov 16 ....... Selected poems TBA
EMILY DICKINSON
M Nov 19 ....... Dickinson (3343-47)
Higginson, letters (2335-37)
Selected letters TBA
Selected poems TBA
M Nov 26 ....... Dickinson, selected poems TBA
W Nov 28 ....... Dickinson, selected poems TBA
F Nov 30 ....... Dickinson, selected poems TBA
W Dec 5 ....... 8 a.m. Out-of-class final exam seminar

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