Dr. Judith Hiltner
Saint Xavier University

Stories of the Republic:
Fiction and the Forging of National Identity in the Early Republic

Course Objectives:

To survey popular early American narrative forms in order to enjoy the lively and curious stories and also to critique the cultural use of fiction for shaping concepts of national identity, virtue and citizenship in the new republic. To examine how writers of the period use fictional narrative to negotiate anxieties regarding who should rule in a republic, how to incorporate or exclude the non-English "other," the proper cultural roles for men and women, and the requisite virtues for responsible citizenship in an increasingly competitive market economy.


Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Life of Olaudah Equiano
Brown, Charles Brockden: Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist
Brackenridge, Hugh Henry: Modern Chivalry
Tyler, Royall: The Contrast
Rowson, Susanna: Charlotte Temple and Lucy Temple
Foster, Hannah: The Coquette
Rowlandson, Mary: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary
Bleecker, Eliza: The History of Maria Kittle
Sedgwick, Catherine: Hope Leslie
Hand out essays (to be distributed in class)

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance (mandatory) and participation
Weekly "response writings" to the assigned readings

Undergraduates: Three 5-8 page papers exploring connections among our readings or examining issues in selected texts in more detail than we had time for in class

Graduates:  In class summaries of critical essays on texts we are reading. One longer (15-20 page) paper employing secondary sources, examining in more depth some aspect of a text we have covered, or tracing connections among selected texts. Or you may examine a narrative that we have not covered in class (list of options supplied) and explore in it the themes and issues we have been focusing upon in this course, drawing connections to texts on our syllabus.

Class 1: Wednesday, January 13
              Introduction to the course

Class 2: Wednesday, January 20 The Exemplary Autobiography: Self Definition and the Self
                 Made Man
              Discuss Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Class 3: Wednesday, January 27
              Discuss Crevecoeur readings from Letters from an American Farmer (handout)
              Discuss Jefferson readings from Notes on the State of Virginia (handout)
              Discuss Life of Olaudah Equiano

Class 4: Wednesday, February 3 The Gothic Psychodrama: Fear of the Alien and the
                 Potentials and Hazards of Democratic Liberalism
              Discuss readings from Thomas Paine: The Crisis, and Age of Reason (handout)
              Discuss first half of Wieland

Class 5: Wednesday, February 10
              Discuss second half of Wieland
              Discuss readings from Federalist Papers, and Jefferson-Adams letters (handout)
              ***Undergraduate essay on Franklin/Equiano due

Class 6: Wednesday, February 17 The Satirical Picaresque: Aristocrats vs. Demogogues
              Discuss Modern Chivalry

Class 7: Wednesday, February 24
             Complete Modern Chivalry
             Return and discuss sample undergraduate essays

Class 8: Wednesday, March 3
              Discuss The Contrast
              Discuss essays on women’s role in the Early Republic: Judith Sargeant Murray,
                 Thomas Paine, Benjamin Rush, articles from the Massachusetts Spy (handout)

 Class 9: Wednesday, March 17 The Seduction Novel: Women in the Republic and "A
                  Woman’s Place"
               Discuss Charlotte Temple

Class 10: Wednesday, March 24
                Discuss The Coquette

Class 11: Wednesday, March 31 The Captivity Narrative: The Native American as Demon
                    or Doomed Noble Savage
                Discuss handout poems and essays on Native Americans (Philip Freneau, Benjamin
                    Franklin, etc.)
                 Discuss Captivity of Mary Rowlandson
                 ***Undergraduate essay on Wieland/Modern Chivalry/Contrast/Charlotte
                     Temple/Coquette due

Class 12: Wednesday, April 7
                 Discuss The History of Maria Kittle
                 Introduction to Hope Leslie
                 Return and discuss sample undergraduate essays

Class 13: Wednesday, April 14 The Historical Romance: Shaping the Colonial Past
                   to Forge a National Myth
                Discuss Hope Leslie, Vol. I

Class 14: Wednesday, April 21
                Discuss Hope Leslie, Vol. II
                ***Graduate students present one page prospectus and annotated bibliography for their

Class 15: Wednesday, April 28
                No formal class, consultation on final papers

Wednesday, May 5:
                Undergraduate essay on treatment of Native American themes due
                Graduate papers due
                (NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED)