Gilbert L. Gigliotti
Central Connecticut State U



The theme of Early American Literature (Eng 340) is the diverse searches for identity (artistic, cultural, ethnic, political, philosophical, racial, religious, and sexual) in American literature from the early seventeenth century through the national period in the late eighteenth century. To reinforce and build upon the broad foundation that students have received in the American Literature I (Eng 210), the students examine select texts, thematically grouped, by significant authors.

Aiming at a thorough understanding of the issues of identity raised by these authors, the predominant mode of instruction is class discussion (including oral presentations, group work, and in-class writing) accompanied by the directed lecture. Due to this very cooperative approach to learning, regular class attendance and participation is encouraged (and required).


Unit One: The Fictive in/on/of Amer1ca

This unit explores three late eighteenth-century novels and their depictions.of the disparate philosophical and cultural concerns of the early national period.

Unit Two: Engendering America - A Critique of Puritan Language

Through a close examination of the documents surrounding the trial of Anne Hutchinson as well as the writings of Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson, this unit discusses the subtle but serious attack levelled by these women on patriarchal Puritan culture.

Unit Three: "Auto-American-Biography" - Writing Amer1can Lives

Borrowing its title from Sacvan Bercovitch's concept of the rhetorical strategy at the core of literary "American-ness," this unit focuses upon three first-person narratives and the ways in which the authors (re)create their uniquely American selves.

Unit Four: American Verses/American Voices

"American Verses/American Voices" highlights the diverse ways in which early Americans found their voice through poetry: from Edward Taylor's baroque meditations to Phillis Wheatley's neoclassical assertion of self and the Connecticut Wits' federalist burlesques.



4   W   Introduction to course: Objectives, Methods, Requirements, and Expectations

6   F    Unit One
          Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer (1782)

9   M   Letters from an American Farmer (cont.)

11 W   Letters from an American Farmer (cont.)

13  F  Saar,"Heritage of American Ethnicity in Crevecoeur's Letters from an American
          Farmer"   (Mixed 241-256)

16  M  Foster, The Coquette (1797)

18  W  The Coquette (cont.)

20  F  The Coquette (cont.)

23 M  Brown, Wieland, or The Transformation (1798)

25 W  Wieland (cont.)

27 F  Wieland (cont.)

30 M  Wieland (cont.)


2  W  Project A: "The Crown v. Carwin"

4  F  Unit Two
         Hall, The Antinomian Controversy 1636-1638

7  M  The Antinomian Controversy (cont.)

9  W  The Antinomian Controversy (cont.)

11 F  The Antinomian Controversy (cont.)

14 M The Antinomian Controversy (cont.)
          PAPER (4-5 pages) DUE

16 W Rowlandson, The Captive (1682)

18 F  Reading Day

21 M Sewall, "'So Unstable and like Mad Men They Were:' Language and Interpretation in
          American Captivity Narratives" (Mixed 39-55)

23 W The Captive (cont.)

25 F Project B: Williams, "The Gratification of that Corrupt and Lawless Passion: Character
        Types and  Themes in Early New England Rape Narratives"  (Mixed 194-221)

28 M Anne Bradstreet, selections (Course Packet)

30 W Anne Bradstreet, cont.


        Occom, "A Short Narrative of My Life" (Course Packet)

4 M Marrant, "A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black"
       (1785) (Course Packet)

6 W Montgomery, "Recapturing John Marrant" (Mixed 105-115)

8  F   Early American Portraiture:
         New Britain Museum of American Art

11 M Project C: Sekora, "Red, White, and Black: Indian Captivities, Colonial Printers, and
          African-American Narrative" (Mixed 92-104)

13 W  Franklin, The Autobiography (1789)

15  F   Autobiography (cont.)

18 Autobiography (cont.)

20 W Project D: Kueren, "The American Indian as Humorist in Colonial Literature" (Mixed 77-91)

22 F  Project E: Secor, "Ethnic Humor in Early American Jest Books" (Mixed 163-193)

         Edward Taylor, selections (Course Packet)

27 W


29 F


M  Edward Taylor, cont.

4  W  Phillis Wheatley, selections (Course Packet)

6  F  Phillis Wheatley, cont.
        PAPER (12-15 pages) DUE

9 M  Erkkila, "Phillis Wheatley and the Black American Revolution" (Mixed 225-240)

11 W The Connecticut Wits, The Anarchlad (1786-1787) (Course Packet)

13 F The Anarchiad, cont.

TBA Final Exam

Required Texts and Tools:

Brown, C.B., Wieland, or The Transformation (Penguin)
Crevecoeur, St.J. de, Letters from an American Farmer (Penguin)
Foster, H. W., The Coquette (Oxford)
Franklin, B., The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Signet)
Hall, D.D., ed., The Antinomian Controversy: 1686-1688 (Duke)
Rowlandson, M., The Captive (American Eagle)
Shuffelton, F., A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America (Oxford)
Course Packet, CCSU/Barnes and Noble Bookstore
Vax (E-mail) Account, CCSU Computer Lab, Marcus White Annex

Grading Breakdown:

E-mail Journals (at least 14 entries) 10%
In-class Writings (no makeups) 5%
Class Participation 5%
Paper (4-5 pages) 15%
Project 15%
Thesis Statement/Annotated Bibliography 5%
Research Paper (12-15 pages) 25%
Final Exam 20%


E-mail Journal (at least 14 "posts"): a collection of personal responses to the assigned readings posted on the VAXNOTES discussion group "EarlyAmLit," which has been created especially for this class. Students, over the course of the semester, should choose no fewer than seven (7) of the readings (literary and/or critical) to address on the conference. Having read the first part of each selection chosen (from a stanza of a poem to a chapter of a novel to a few pages of an article), students should respond in a "preview" entry with comments and questions concerning the issues they believe to be central to that reading. Then the students, having finished the reading, return to the issues they raised in the preview and react once again in a "review": Did the text adequately answer their concerns?, etc.. All "preview" entries, of course, should be posted before the class in which the readings are first discussed. Due: Throughout semester.

Project: a group activity involving the presentation and discussion of the concepts addressed in the four articles identified in the syllabus as "Projects B, C, D, and E * " The group may introduce these ideas in any way they choose: debate, dramatization, oral report, artistic interpretation, etc. The project grades is a 50%-50% composite of group and individual scores. The group score is based upon the clear and imaginative presentation of the significant ideas of the articles. The individual grade, meanwhile, is based upon both the student's participation during the in-class activity itself and an one-page self-evaluation of his/her contribution to its preparation. (For an alternative to this presentation requirement, see "Project A: The Crown v. Carwin" guidelines below.) Due: 2 Oct, 25 Oct, 11 Nov, 20 Nov, and 22 Nov.

Paper (4-5 Pages): a detailed examination of a particular passage, theme, or image in one of the novels discussed in the first part of the course. This should explore how the passage, theme, or image reflects/refracts the specific work as a whole, be it a poem, novel, sermon, personal narrative, or essay. This paper will be evaluated by the Diederich Scale (see attached sheet). Due: 14 Oct.

Thesis statement and annotated bibliography: a focused and well-articulated statement of the topic for the research paper (see below) together with a targeted bibliography of appropriate and applicable sources. In addition, for each source, the student will write a one-paragraph summary of the ideas and arguments presented. Due: 18 Nov.

Research Paper-15 pages: a research paper on some aspect of  identity (cultural, ethnic, literary, philosophical, political, racial, religious, or sexual) in early American literature. This paper also will be evaluated by the Diederich Scale (see attached sheet). Due: 6 Dec.

Final Exam: a comprehensive assay exam that concentrates on the major theme of identity (and its variations) as expressed in the texts, both literary and critical, read and discussed throughout the semester. Due: TBA.

Project A: Mock Trial Activity: "The Crown v. Carwin" (28 Sept)

A. Rules of the game

1. Attorneys and witnesses

a. Three students for the prosecution
b. Three students for the defense
c. Witnesses as determined by attorneys

2. Judge, jury, and verdict

a. The professor will act as judge
b. The class members not acting as attorneys or witnesses will serve as the jury
c. The verdict will be determined by deliberation and vote of the jury after all evidence is
    presented and any appropriate or necessary instructions are given by the judge

3. Procedure

a. Opening arguments - 4 minutes each
b. Examination of witnesses - 15 minutes each for prosecution-and defense
c. Closing arguments - 4 minutes each

4. Evidence

a. Only evidence taken from Wieland itself and "common knowledge" is admissible
b. Any questions of admissibility are determined by the judge
c. When witnesses are called, they must read passages from the text itself in answer to all questions

B. Grading

1. Participation fulfills oral presentation requirement

2. Final grade is 50%-50% composite of individual and group grades

3. Individual grade based upon:

a. participation on day of trial
b. self-evaluation of participation in preparation

4. Group grade based upon:

a. script produced
b. competency of case presented
c. Not success or failure of case

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. My office location and hours are: