Dr. Josef Raab
Katholische Universitat Eichstatt

American Literature and Culture 1:
Beginnings to 1800

American literature and culture are much older than the United States. Native American oral traditions, which are still thriving today, have existed in the North American continent for millennia. The settlement of Europeans in the New World added new forms of cultural and literary expression, including sermons, histories, diaries, autobiographies, travel accounts, essays, poetry, and drama, which were usually modeled on European conventions. During and after the Revolution, however, the distinctly American voices that were heard in politics, culture, and literature became louder and stronger. Thus American literature and culture have always been multi-vocal. It is the goal of this course to illustrate this diversity through America's early literature and culture, which laid the basis for much of what we now generally consider to be characteristically "American."


Lemay, J.A. Leo. An Early American Reader. 1988. Washington, D.C.: United States Information Agency, 1992. [hereafter EAR]

Brown, Charles Brockden. Wieland & Carwin the Biloquist. 1798. New York and London: Oxford UP, 1994.

Supplemented by:

Baym, Nina et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Volume 1. Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1994. [hereafter NAAL]

Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon Books., 1984. [hereafter AIML]

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Volume I. Second Edition. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1994. [hereafter HAAL]

Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown. American Indian Literatures. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1990. [hereafter AIL]

Background reading:

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Volume I: 1590-1820. New York: Cambridge UP, 1994. [hereafter CHAL]

Supplemented by:

Davidson, Cathy N. Revolution and the Word. The Rise of the Novel in America. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986.

Taylor, Joshua C. The Fine Arts in America. Chicago and London: The U of Chicago P, 1979.

Wood, Gordon S. The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. 1969. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1972.

Each seminar participant (including auditors) is expected to read all assigned texts and to give a twenty-minute oral presentation. Students wishing to receive Proseminar credit for this course will also need to write a fifteen- to twenty-five page research paper. The due date for research papers is October 16, 1995.

Course Outline

May 8Native American
Introduction; Native American Poetry
Introduction: Main Currents in American Literature and Culture before 1800
Introduction: Native American Oral Poetry and Narratives
Native American Oral Poetry- "The Sky Clears," "Flower Wilderness World," "Song of the Sky Loom," "The Hako Party Presented to the Powers," "I am a person...," "Evening is falling...," "Now shall I split off words...," 'The whole world is coming...," (AIL 28-33); 'The Singer's Art," "Improvised Greeting," "Formula to Secure Love," "Song of War" (HAAL 93-4, 98, 104-5, 107)

May 15:   Native American
Native American Stories; Accounts of the European Conquest
Native American Oral Narrative: background (AIL 39-43), "Rabbit Boy" (AIML 5-8),
   "Talk  Concerning the First Beginning" (HAAL 27-41)
Background: Carla Mulford, "Colonial Period: to 1700" (HAAL 1-20)
Presentation: Myra Jehlen, "The Natural Inhabitants" (CHAL 37-58)
Christopher Columbus, Journal of the First Voyage to America, 1492-1493 (excerpts,
   HAAL 117-125), "Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella Regarding the Fourth Voyage"
   (NAAL 12-14)
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The True History of the Conquest of New Spain (excerpts
   NAAL  24-40)

May 22European Settlements and the Puritan Utopia
Presentation: Myra Jehlen, "Settlements" (CHAL 84-108)
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation (excerpts EAR 187-92, 202-10, and HAAL 250-3)
Mary Rowlandson, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary
   Rowlandson  (excerpts, EAR 434-44, 459-67)
Presentation: Emory Elliott, 'The Dream of a Christian Utopia" (CHAL 183-204)
John Winthrop, "A Modell of Christian Charity" (EAR 13-24)

May 29Puritan Poetry
Presentation: Emory Elliott, "Poetry" (CHAL 226-254)
The Bay Psalm Book- "Preface," Psalms 1, 23, 137 (HAAL 326-31, 334-6)
The New England Primer: "Alphabet," 'The Dutiful Child's Promises," "Verses" (HAAL 337-9)
   Anne Bradstreet, "The Prologue," "The Author to Her Book," "Contemplations," "Before the
   Birth of One of Her Children," 'To My Dear and Loving Husband" (EAR 211-20, 222-3)
Edward Taylor, "Meditation 8 [First Series]," "Meditation 26 [Second Series]" (EAR

June 12The Puritan Reality; the Secular Utopia
Presentation: Emory Elliott, 'The Jeremiad" (CHAL 255-78)
Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World: 'The Tryal of Bridget Bishop,"
Magnalia Christi Americana: "Nehemias Americanus: The Life of John Winthrop, Esq." (EAR
Presentation: Emory Elliott, "Reason and Revivalism" (CHAL 279-306)
Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (EAR 311-23)
Background: Carla Mulford, "Eighteenth Century" (HAAL 495-518)
Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer "What Is an American?"
   (EAR 116-29)

June 19Political Writing
Presentation: Robert A. Ferguson, "Writing the Revolution" (CHAL 426-69)
Thomas Paine, Common Sense: "Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs," The Crisis
   (ch. 1) (EAR 692-708)
Presentation: Robert A. Ferguson, 'The Literature of Public Documents" (CHAL 470-95)
Thomas Jefferson, 'The Declaration of Independence" (EAR 687-91)
Presentation (shorter): Gordon S. Wood, "The Federalist Persuasion" (Creation 532-47)
The Federalist (no. 10, 51) (EAR 716-24)
"The Constitution of the United States of America"

June 26The Arts; Autobiography
Presentation: Joshua C. Taylor, "The Fine Arts in America: 1670-1776," "1776-1860" (Fine
   Arts 3-35)
Portraits of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography (excerpts, EAR 61-115)

July 3:  Autobiography; Drama
Samson Occom, "A Short Narrative of My Life" (HAAL 939-47)
Olaudah Equiano, The Life of Olaudah Equiano (excerpts from chs. 2 and 7) (EAR 648-53,
   HAAL 995-8)
Presentation: Michael T. Gilmore, 'The Drama" (CHAL 573-90)
Royall Tyler, The Contrast (HAAL 1101-42)

July 10:  The Early American Novel
Presentation: Michael T. Gilmore, 'The Novel" (CHAL 620-43)
Presentation (shorter): Michael T. Gilmore, "Charles Brockden Brown" (CHAL 644-60)
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland, or, The Transformation

July 17The Early American Novel and Its Readers
Presentation (shorter): Cathy N. Davidson, 'Ile Book in the New Republic" (Revolution 15-37)
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland (continued)
Presentation (shorter): Cathy N. Davidson, "Literacy, Education, and the Reader" (Revolution

July 24Eighteenth-Century Poetry
Presentation: Michael T. Gilmore, "Poetry" (CHAL 591-619)
Joel Barlow, 'The Hasty-Pudding" (EAR 130-39)
Ebenezer Cook, 'The Sot-weed Factor; or, a Voyage to Maryland, &c." (EAR 149-67)
Anonymous, "Yankee Doodle" (EAR 168-72)
Philip Freneau, "The Indian Burying Ground" (EAR 516-18)
Phillis Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America," "On Imagination," 'To S.M. A Young
   African Painter, on Seeing His Works," 'To the Right Honourable William, Earl
   of Dartmouth, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for North-America, &C" (EAR 612-17)