Rosemary Fithian Guruswamy
Radford University

Course Description and Syllabus

TEXTS: (In order of reading)

Martin, Wendy, ed. Colonial American Travel Narratives. Penguin.
Melville, Herman. Typee. Oxford University Press.
Sedgwick, Catharine Maria. Hope Leslie. Rutgers University Press.
Carretta, Vincent, ed. The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano. Viking/Penguin.
Andrews, William L., ed. Three Classic African-American Novels. Mentor.


We will be studying the narrative tradition that makes up a large part of the earliest American literature and that develops, in the United States, into the American novel. The three types of narratives we will be studying are travel narratives (as an outgrowth of exploration and migration literature), Indian captivity narratives, and slave narratives. In each case, we will complete our study with the reading of a novel that grew out of the narrative tradition. We will also be reading various other early American and critical texts along the way, which I will distribute in class. In doing all of this, we will try to develop a sensitivity to the cultural situation out of which grew this literary tradition.


Office = 416 Young Hall.

Phone = 831-5285, or call my secretary at 831-5614 and leave a message. I also have voice mail.

E-mail address =

Office hours = 10-11 MWF and by appointment. Please note that, as chair of the department, I also have office hours posted on my door for general student use. Feel free to avail yourself of these hours if mine for this class are not convenient for you.


    1. Class participation and in-class work. 15% of overall grade.
    2. Three in-class essay exams, one after each section. Each worth 20% of overall grade.
    3. Annotated bibliography of critical reading in one section (your choice). Worth 25% of overall grade.
Study and explanation sheets will be passed out in class, as necessary.
    1. The class participation grade is partially based on your attendance. If you are not here to do group work or participate in a class activity for which points are given, you cannot make it up. In the case of circumstances beyond your control causing you to miss class, you should see me as soon as possible to explain your absence.
    2. All work is due on the days noted in the syllabus. I will take one letter grade off for each class that your annotated bibliography is late. If you must miss an exam due to circumstances beyond your control, I must be notified before the exam or within 24 hours afterwards or you will forfeit your chance to make up the exam. All make-up exams must be done within 1 week of the scheduled exam.
    3. Incompletes will be given only in cases of grave illness or other circumstances preventing you from completing the course. These must be arranged prior to the end of the semester, and you must be present to sign the necessary paperwork.
    4. I do not give extra-credit work under any circumstances.
    5. All Radford University students are expected to abide by the Honor Code posted in each classroom. This class will be conducted in strict observance of that Code.

Have assigned work read when you come to class. Be sure to bring the appropriate book(s) to class on the days noted.

M Aug. 24: Introduction to course.

W Aug. 26: Travel narrative as a genre. READ Martin, introduction: "Mapping American Life" (pp.

F Aug. 28: Some early discovery narratives: in-class reading provided.

M Aug. 31: Settling the land. Lecture-discussion. Annotated bibliography assignment

W Sept. 2: READ "The Journal of Madam Knight" in Martin (pp. 49-75).

F Sept. 4: Discussion of Knight.

M Sept. 7: READ Byrd, "The Secret History" in Martin (pp. 78-130).

W Sept. 9: Secret and public: 18th century publication anxiety. Lecture-discussion.

F Sept. 11: CONTINUE Byrd (pp. 130-72).

M Sept. 14: READ Hamilton, "The Itinerarium" in Martin (pp. 174-206).

W Sept. 16: CONTINUE Hamilton (pp. 206-42).

F Sept. 18 CONTINUE Hamilton (pp. 242-82).

M Sept. 21: The 18th century milieu in America and its support of travel. Lecture-discussion.

W Sept. 23: FINISH Hamilton (pp. 282-327).

F Sept. 25: Summing up travel narratives: transition into the 19th century.

M Sept. 28: READ Melville, Typee (pp. 1-110; through Chap. 11).

W Sept. 30: CONTINUE Melville (pp. 111-248; through Chap. 28).

F Oct. 2: FINISH Melville.

M Oct. 5: Review of the travel narrative genre: what happens to it? Travel narrative
                 bibliographies due. Distribute Winthrop, Model of Christian Charity for reading.

W Oct. 7: TEST on travel narratives.

F Oct. 9: Back to the Puritan beginnings: the Native American problem. Distribute versions of
               Pocahontas story.

M Oct. 12: Preceding the Puritans: John Smith’s Generall Historie starts the Indian captivity genre.

W Oct. 14: Further discussion of Pocahontas.

F Oct. 16: READ Rowlandson in Martin (pp. 1-48). NOTE READING ASSIGNMENT OVER


W Oct. 21: Further discussion of Rowlandson.

F Oct. 23: READ Sedgwick, Hope Leslie. Have whole novel read over break.

M Oct. 26: The growth of the noble savage. Lecture-discussion.

W Oct. 28: CONTINUE Sedgwick discussion.

F Oct. 30: Summing up the Indian captivity narrative. Distribute pages from Castiglia, Bound and
                Determined. Indian captivity narrative bibliographies due.

M Nov. 2: TEST on Indian captivity narratives.

W Nov. 4: Slaves in early America. An entextualized chronological history. Distribute Selling of

F Nov. 6: Christianity and slavery: in-class speculation.

M Nov. 9: READ Carretta introduction (ix-xxviii).

W Nov. 11: READ Equiano narrative text (Carretta) (pp. 5-112).

F Nov. 13: CONTINUE Equiano (pp. 113-97).

M Nov. 16: FINISH Equiano (pp. 198-236).

W Nov. 18: The slave narrative continues. Excerpts from later narratives.

F Nov. 20: In-class work on the slave narrative genre.

M Nov. 23: Reading Day.



M Nov. 30: READ Introduction to Andrews (pp. 7-14, to end of top paragraph).

W Dec. 2: READ all of Douglass, Heroic Slave in Andrews (pp. 25-69).

F Dec. 4: Study of Douglass.

M Dec. 7: Continue study of Douglass.

W Dec. 9: Review of slave narrative genre: how it feeds into the African-American novel.

F Dec. 11: Review for third test. Slave narrative bibliographies due.

The third test will be given during the final exam period, although it will be set up as a one-hour exam to parallel the earlier ones. This will take place in our classroom on Wednesday Dec. 16, 2:00 p.m.