David Curtis
Belmont University
Origins of the American Novel

Required Texts:

William Hill Brown, The Power of Sympathy / Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette  (Penguin)
 Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple (Oxford)
 Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland (Penguin)
 Tabitha Tenney, Female Quixotism (Oxford)
 Rebecca Rush, Kelroy (Oxford)


8-12 page paper (includes presentation)                     40%
Final Exam                                                                 20%
Class Participation/Journal readings                            15%
Midterm Exam                                                           15%
Presentation/Discussion of critical article                      10%

Course Description:

Though novel reading in America was already quite popular the Revolution, the "American novel," for a variety of cultural, political, and logistical reasons, doesn't emerge until after political independence is well established.  We'll be reading and discussing six popular novels, all written between the ratification of the Constitution and the War of 1812, in order to explore the central questions now at issue among critics of early American literature: How do American novelists try to differentiate themselves from their British counterparts?  How did a readership for the novel develop?  What roles did novels play in establishing/enforcing the cultural, social, and political norms of a new nation?  Should Susanna Rowson be considered "the father of the American novel" (among other canonicity issues)?  Can modern critical conceptions of "post colonial" or "second world"
literature be profitably applied to American literature of this period?  Using these texts and these and other questions, we'll explore the economic, social, political, and cultural factors that created a favorable climate for development of the genre.

Course Schedule:


T10 - Introduction to the course

W11 - Continued introduction- Discussion: "Susanna Rowson, Father of the American Novel"

R12 - Discussion: The Power of Sympathy

F13 - Discussion: The Power of Sympathy; Presentation/Discussion: "Commodity and
          Communication: The First American Novel"

M16 - Discussion: Charlotte Temple

T17 - Reading Day - NO CLASS MEETING

W18 - Discussion: Charlotte Temple; Presentation/Discussion: "Charlotte Temple's Remains"

R19 - Discussion: The Coquette

F20 - Discussion: The Coquette; Presentation/Discussion: "The Coquette Composed"

M23 - MIDTERM EXAM; American Gothic

T24 - Discussion: Wieland

W25 - Discussion: Wieland; Presentation/Discussion: "'Do You Know the Author?': The Question
           of Authorship in Wieland"

R26 - Discussion: Wieland; Presentation/Discussion: "The Arm Lifted Against Me: Love, Terror,
          and the Construction of Gender in Wieland"

F27 - Discussion: Wieland; Presentation/Discussion: "Construing Brown's Wieland: Ambiguity and
          Derridean `Freeplay'"; paper prospectus, conference due

M30 - Discussion: Female Quixotism


T1 - Discussion: Female Quixotism; Presentation/Discussion: "The Parodic Mode and the
        Patriarchal Imperative: Reading the Female Reader(s) in Tabitha Tenney's Female Quixotism"

W2 - Discussion: Female Quixotism; Paper progress conferences

R3 - Discussion of Female Quixotism; Presentation/Discussion of  Papers-in-progress:

F4 - Independence Day - NO CLASS MEETING

M7 - Presentation/Discussion of Papers-in-progress:

T8 - Discussion of Kelroy

W9 - Discussion of Kelroy

R10 - Papers Due; Discussion of Kelroy