David Mitchell
Northern Michigan University

American Literature I

Required Texts:

        1.  Gunn, Giles (ed.).  Early American Writing.
        2.  Andrews, William L. (ed.).  Classic American Autobiographies.
        3.  Diaz, Bernal.  The Conquest of New Spain.

Course Description:

This class will involve a survey of some of the key incidents, writers and concepts which laid the foundation of the European invasion of the Americas.  Beginning with Columbus' letter about the original discovery - and ending with the roots and rationalizations of slavery, we will "tour" the imaginative and historical landscape of the colonial period through investigations of the literary and cultural legacies of empire building.  The class will chart a course of the conflictual demands and motivations undergirding such a project in order to understand the diverse apparatus of cultural domination and migration.  Our investigations will begin in Europe with the first stirrings of "America" as an imagined entity and continue on to watch the evolution of an American culture that straddled a
contradictory desire to break with the Old World while simultaneously recreating it on "foreign" shores.  In the process of bringing this vision of "settlement" to fruition, the land's newly arrived inhabitants struggled to keep their sense of themselves and their missions "pure" in the midst of bartering, negotiating, captivating and slaughtering indigenous populations already involved in their own struggles to inhabit the continents.

Schedule of Readings, papers and exams:

Aug. 27
        Columbus, "Letter to the Sovereigns" [Hand-out]

Sept. 3
        Michel Montaigne, "Of Cannibals" [On Reserve]
        Michel deCerteau, "The Savage 'I'" [On Reserve]

Sept. 10
        Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain

Sept. 17
        Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain
        Close Reading Exercise

Sept. 24
        John Smith, from A Description of New England [97-101]
        John Winthrop, from A Modell of Christian Charity [108-112]
        Thomas Morton from The New English Canaan [138-147]

Oct. 1
        William Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation [120-137]
        Paper Due:  Close Reading of a Passage (3 pages)

Oct. 8
        Thomas Hooker, from A True Sight of Sin [148-158]
        Ann Hutchinson, from The Examination of Mrs. Ann Hutchinson at the Court at Newtown

Oct. 15
        Midterm Exam

Oct. 22
        The Poetry of Ann Bradstreet [176-193]
        Michael Wigglesworth, from God's Controversy With New England [209-216]

Oct. 29
        Mary Rowlandson, A True History of the Captivity of and Restoration of Mrs. Mary
           Rowlandson [Andrews, 19-69]
        Sarah Kemble Knight, from The Journal of Madam Knight [269-271]

Nov. 5
        Edward Taylor, "Upon a Spider Catching a Fly" [241-242], "Huswifery" [243]
        Cotton Mather, from Magnalia Christi Americana [259-273]
        Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God [320-332]

Nov. 12
        Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin [Andrews, 70-228]

Nov. 19
        Franklin Continued
        J. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, from Letters of an American Farmer [473-484]

Nov. 26
        Thomas Paine, from Of the Religion of Deism . . . [490-495]
        Phillip Freneau, "On the Emigration to America" [560-561]
        Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America" [566]
        Research Paper Due:  Comparison and Contrast of Two Literary Figures (6-9 Pages)

Dec. 3
        Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass [Andrews, 229-327]
        *Final Exam Date and Time to be Announced

Course Requirements:

1.  This class is heavily reading based and thus will involve each - of you in a commitment to keep up with the reading and come to class prepared to discuss your interpretations with the rest of the
class.  Participation is a must, and will account for 10% of your grade.

2.  There will be a midterm and a final that will consist of short response and longer essay questions.  The exams will be given on the dates specified and each exam is worth another 25% of the final grade.

4.  You will also compose a two papers.  The first will entail a close reading of a passage.  This paper will be 3 pages in length, double-space, typed or word processes.  The close reading will account for 15% of your final grade.  The second paper will be a research paper on some
aspect of the colonial period.  This paper will be 6 - 9 pages in length, double-spaced, typed or word processed and include a bibliography of your research sources.  It will account for the remaining 25% of your grade.

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