Ideology and Early American Literature
Purpose of course:
Cultural attitudes have deep historical roots. In this course we will be examining some of the founding texts of the American canon, reading them not only for the ideological picture they give of an emerging market culture, but also for the features of that culture they deliberately exclude. By understanding how earlier generations made sense of their often bewildering world, we may be able to apply those lessons to our own.
The class will be conducted as a modified seminar: students will be responsible for carrying on class discussion. Each week, several students will read brief commentaries in addition to the primary texts, using both to reflect on a study question I will provide. These students will lead the discussion, to which we will all contribute.
Discussion leaders will submit a 4-page typewritten essay on their findings in the week following their assigned topic. Everyone will write four such essays during the course of the semester. There will also be a written, in-class midterm and a final exam.
Four essays .................. 40%
Final ............................. 20%
Class participation .......... 20%
Attendance: Students with more than 4 unexcused absences may fail the course. Attendance will be taken daily.
Incompletes: Incompletes will be granted for serious illness or emergency only.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism means using the words or ideas of another person without attribution. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, and may result in a disciplinary hearing. Please avoid it.
1. Xeroxes provided by instructor:John Smith, A Description of New-England2. Available from bookstore:
John Winthrop, "A Modell of Christian Charity"
Thomas Shepard, Autobiography
Anne Bradstreet, Selected poems
Edward Taylor, Selected poems
Cotton Mather, Pietas in Patriam
Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The FederalistMary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, in Alden Vaughan, ed.,Syllabus
Puritans Among the Indians (Belknap)
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (Penguin)
J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters From an American Farmer (Penguin)
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Bedford)
Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette (Oxford)
Washington Irving, The Sketch Book (Signet)
Puritan Communities, Puritan Selves
1. Introduction: The shape of belief
2. Imperial vision: John Smith's A Description of New-England  (xerox)
3. Smith, A Description of New-England
5. Prophecy and profit: John Winthrop's "A Modell of Christian Charity"  (xerox)
6. Winthrop, "A Modell of Christian Charity"
7. Winthrop, "A Modell of Christian Charity"
8. The divided self: Thomas Shepard's Autobiography [c. 1648] (xerox)
9. Shepard, Autobiography
11. Shepard, Autobiography
12. The price of solitude: Mary Rowlandson's The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682], in
Alden Vaughan, ed., Puritans Among the Indians (31-75)
13. Rowlandson, Sovereignty
15. Rowlandson, Sovereignty
16. The nature of piety: Anne Bradstreet, Selected poems (Xerox)
17. Bradstreet, Selections
18. Bradstreet, Selections
19. Preparatory poet: Edward Taylor, Selections [xerox]
20. Taylor, Selections
21. Taylor, Selections
22. Signs and wonders: Cotton Mather's Pietas in Patriam  (xerox)
23. Mather, Pietas in Patriam
24. Mather, Pietas in Patriam
26. Revolutionary virtue: Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography [d.1790)
27. Franklin, Autobiography
28. Franklin, Autobiography
29. The logic of failure: J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's Letters From an American Farmer
30. Crevecoeur, Letters From an American Farmer
31. Crevecoeur, Letters From an American Farmer
32. The limits of liberty: Hamilton and Madison, The Federalist Papers  (selections)
33. The Federalist Papers
Voices of Protest
34. Marginal man: Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
35. Equiano, Interesting Narrative
36. Equiano, Interesting Narrative
37. Republican sympathies: Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette 
40. Foster, The Coquette
41. Foster, The Coquette
42. Federalist sympathies: Washington Irving's The Sketch Book 
43. Irving, The Sketch Book
44. Irving, The Sketch Book