David Mitchell
Northern Michigan University

 Indigenous Genres: American Literary Forms, 1492-1850

Required Texts:

1.  Jehlen, Myra & Michael Warner (eds.).  The English Literatures of America, 1500-1800.  New
     York: Routledge, 1997.
2.  Emerson, Ralph Waldo.  The Portable Emerson.  New York: Viking P, 1987.
3.  Fuller, Margaret.  Woman in the Nineteenth Century.  New York: Viking P, 1997 [1845].
4.  Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (ed.).  The Classic Slave Narrative. New York:  New American
      Library,  1987.
5.  Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter: A Romance.  New York: Bedford Books, 1991
6.  Melville, Herman.  The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade. Evanston/Chicago: The
     Northwestern UP/The Newberry Library, 1984 [1857].
7.  Garibaldi, Joseph. The MLA Handbook for Writer's of Research Papers.  Fourth Edition.  New
     York: The Modern Languages Association of America, 1995.

Course Description: This seminar offers an in-depth survey of narrative forms that developed during the settlement of the North American continent. Students will learn to identify and analyze the components, styles, and unique contents that shaped American written expression.  Our explorations will trace a history of thought through the development of genres such as: new World Travel Narratives, the American Jeremiad, Captivity Narratives, Slave Narratives, Romances, etc.  The course will examine critical questions that informed the literary evolution of an "American Identity" as
the country moved from a tentative colonial mindset to a more permanent -- yet conflicted -- national sense of belonging.  Our interpretations will be informed by contemporary theories that discuss the relationship of literature to integral processes such as Eurocentrism, colonization, manifest destiny, national identity, slavery, internal colonization, and multiculturalism.

Schedule of Readings, Discussions, & Assignments:


14      Introduction to Syllabus
          Oral Presentation Assignments
          Weekly One Page Analysis Papers Assignment
           Lecture:  American Genres & the Role of Writing in Nation Formation

The New World Travel Narrative: Constructing the "Savage"

21      Columbus, Christopher.  "Letter to the King and Queen of Castille" (first voyage), 1493:
           The first printed account of America in English, 1511:  43-44.
            Best, George.  from A True Discourse, 1578: 54-58
            Montaigne, Michel de.  "Of Caniballes", 1580 (Library Reserve).
            Smith, Captain John.  from A Description of New England, 1616: pgs.  108-115.
              _______.  from The Generall Histoire of Virginia, 1624: 146-148.

            Secondary Source Readings:
            deCerteau, Michel.  "The Savage 'I': On Montaigne's 'Of Cannibals'" (On Reserve).

New England & the Typology of Reformation

28      Winthrop, John.  "A Modell of Christian Charity", 1630: pgs.  151-159.
           Cotton, John.  from Gods Promise to His Plantations, 1630: 160-161.
            Bradford, William.  from Of Plymouth Plantation, 1630-50: 176-191.
            Mather, Increase.  from Essay for the Recording of Remarkable Providences, 1684:

           Secondary Source Readings:
           Slotkin, Richard.  "Myth and Literature in a New World" from Regeneration Through
               Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1800.  (On Reserve).


Jeremiads and the Apocalyptic Imagination

 4       Wigglesworth, Michael. "God's Controversy with New-England", 1662: 563-575.
           Danforth, Samuel.  A Brief Recognition of New-Englands Errand into the Wilderness, 1671:
            Edwards, Jonathan.  "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", 1741: 616-  627.

            Secondary Source Readings:
            Bercovitch, Sacvan.  "Introduction: The Puritan Errand Reassessed" from The American
               Jeremiad.  (On Reserve).

Gender, Captivity, & Puritan Patriarchy

11       Hutchinson, Anne.  from The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at
              Newtown, 1637:  434-441.
            Bradstreet, Anne.  Poems, 1650:  548-562.
            Rowlandson, Mary.  The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, 1682:  349 382.

           Secondary Source Readings:
           Breitweiser, Mitchell.  "Introduction" from American Puritanism and the Defense of
              Mourning.  (On Reserve).
            Slotkin, Richard.  "Israel in Babylon: The Archetype of the Captivity Narratives" from
               Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1800.
               (On Reserve).

Minds on Matter: Enlightenment Science & the "Self-Made Man"

18      Taylor, Edward.  Poems, 1662:  581-591.
           Mather, Cotton.  from The Christian Philosopher, 1721:  904-906.
           Edwards, Jonathan.  letter on spiders, 1723:  907-911.
           Franklin, Benjamin.  Autobiography, Part I, 1771:  725-767.

           Secondary Source Readings:
           Pratt, Mary Louise.  "Science, Plenatary, Consciousness, Interiors" from Imperial Eyes:
              Travel Writing and Transculturation.  (On Reserve).

Assembling the Fragments of a National Identity

25      Crevecoeur, J.  Hector St.  John de.  from Letters from an American Farmer, 1782:
           Franklin, Benjamin.  "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America", 1783:
            Freneau, Phillip.  Poems, 1784-1797:  1104-1113.

           Secondary Source Readings:
           Brennan, Timothy.  "The National Longing for Form" in Homi Bhabha (ed.), Nation and


4          No Class -- Spring Break

Inventing the American Sublime

11        Emerson, Ralph Waldo.  "Nature", "The American Scholar",  "Self Reliance".
            Thoreau, David.  "Civil Disobedience".  (On Reserve).

            Secondary Source Readings:
            Slotkin, Richard.  "A Pyramid of Skulls" from Regeneration Through Violence: The
                Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1800.  (On Reserve).

The Transcendental Woman vs.  Social Women

18       Fuller, Margaret.  Woman in the Nineteenth Century.

           Secondary Source Readings:
           Welter, Barbara.  "The Cult of True Womanhood".  (On Reserve).

Slave Narratives & the Underbelly of the American "Experiment"

25       Equiano, Olaudah.  from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, 1789:
            Douglass, Frederick.  The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

            Secondary Source Readings:
            Gates, Jr., Henry Louis.  "The Signifying Monkey and the Language of Signifyin(g):
                Rhetorical Difference and the Orders of Meaning from The Signifying Monkey.  (On


Subjecting the National Citizenry

1          Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter: A Romance.

            Secondary Source Readings:
            Berlant, Lauren.  "Introduction: 'I am a Citizen of Somewhere Else" from The Anatomy of
               National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life.  (On Reserve).

Fictionalizing the Puritan Past

8       Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter: A Romance.

Capitalism and the Literary Shell Game

15      Melville, Herman.  The Confidence-Man.

          Secondary Source Readings:
          Serres, Michel.  "Part One: Interrupted Meals" from The Parasite.  (On Reserve).

The Swindle of National Identity

22      Melville, Herman.  The Confidence-Man.
          Lecture: The Literary Deformation of National Character


1.  Each week you will write a one page, single-spaced analysis on one aspect of the assigned reading.  Begin with a brief quotation (2-3 sentences, no more than a paragraph) and respond to its claims in terms of the larger issues with which the text is concerned.  The key to these analyses is that you create a "layered" reading of the contained passage in question -- do not exceed the one page limit, the emphasis here is on depth, clarity and efficiency.  You may skip any two (2) of these
assignments during the semester.

 2.  You will each be responsible for a presentation on some aspect of the reading over the course of the semester.  These will include doing some "outside" research on the text in question, developing discussion questions, and presenting your responses in a coherent, provocative and
interesting manner.  You will present your oral report at the end of class the week before the reading is to be discussed in class.  In this way your presentation will help to direct the class in their readings of the coming material and establish discussion topics that will be addressed the following week.  You do not have to write a one page close reading on the week that your oral presentation is due, but you must compose a bibliography of the research sources you consulted in the process of
preparing your presentation.  Use your MLA Handbook for correct formats and bibliographic citation methods.

3.  Finally, each of you will write a 20--25 page research paper in which you analyze some aspect of the literature we have been discussing in class.  These papers are designed to demonstrate a breadth of knowledge and a sophistocated application of critical paradigms.

A Final Note:  If you have a need for disability-related accommodations or services, please inform me or the Office of Student Support and Disability Services at 405 Cohodas (phone:  227-1550, TDD:  227-1543.  I will make every effort to provide reasonable and effective accommodations.

David T. Mitchell
Associate Professor
Northern Michigan University
Marquette, MI  49855