Tim Sweet
West Virginia University

American Literature to 1865


This course is an introduction to the advanced study of American literature from pre-conquest indigenous traditions through the Civil War.  In keeping with the nature of a survey, the course will emphasize extensive reading, addressing a broad range of genres and topics.  Written work will consist of two exams, designed to organize the material within relevant historical frameworks, and three short assignments, requiring research into primary texts or recent scholarship in the field.

Texts (available at Stilwell Book Shop, 150 Pleasant St., 296-6378)

Charles Brockden Brown.  Edgar Huntly.  Ed. Norman Grabo.  Penguin, 1988.
Collin G. Calloway, ed.  The World Turned Upside Down: Indian Voices from Early America.  St.
   Martin's, 1994.
Caroline Kirkland.  A New Home, Who'll Follow?   Ed. Sandra Zagarell.  Rutgers, 1990.
Paul Lauter, et al., eds.  The Heath Anthology of American Literature.  Vol. 1.  3rd ed.  Houghton
   Mifflin, 1998.
Susanna Rowson.  Charlotte Temple.  Ed. Cathy Davidson.  Oxford, 1987.
Henry David Thoreau.  Walden.  Ed. J. Lyndon Shanley.   Princeton, 1989.
Catharine Williams.  Fall River: An Authentic Narrative.  Ed. Patricia Caldwell.  Oxford, 1993.

Assignments and grading

 Two take-home exams.  10 pages each (double-spaced).  Each will be worth 30% of your final grade.

An edition of an early American text.  For this assignment, you will find some early (i.e.  pre-1820) American text that is out of print and not easily available but that you think would make an interesting complement to the material for this class.   You will need to find the primary source (in microform, special collection, etc.), choose a short excerpt (~1000-1500 words) to transcribe, and prepare an edition consisting of: a short introduction (~250-500 words), an accurate text, and  annotations as
necessary.  Think of this assignment as producing a selection for an anthology such as the Heath.  20% of your final grade.

Two turns at leading class discussion, with short context essays for each.  Once during the first half of the semester and once during the second half, you will be responsible for starting off and leading class discussion.  Bring in a handout (copies for everyone) with questions or issues that will generate some useful discussion.  You won't be required to take charge of the entire class period; just start us going in productive directions.  You will also write a short rationale (2-3 pp. plus works cited) discussing the critical and/or historical context from which you generated your handout.  The handout and essay will be worth 10% (x2) of your final grade.  Classroom performance will not be graded.

Online resources

Society of Early Americanists Home Page http://www.hnet.uci.edu/mclark/seapage.htm  Includes syllabi, recent and forthcoming publications, a text and image library, information about the
Society, etc.

Early American Links  http://www.uc.edu/~milljw/earlyamerica.html   Links to texts of historical documents, library collections, journals, pages devoted to American authors, the machine-searchable Moby Dick, and much more.  The word "early" in the title is misleading, since the collection
covers material to 1900.

FirstSearch through WVU Libraries  http://www.wvu.edu/~library/first.htm Accessible without a password from networked machines on campus, this site has a collection of databases such as the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, MLA Bibliography, and other useful items to supplement "Wilson" on Mountainlynx.   (For an off-campus password, go to the Reference Desk at Wise Library.)

Schedule of Readings and Work Due

1/12   Introduction

1/19   MLK Day recess

1/26   Acoma origin story (photocopy)
       Fray Marcos, "A Relation . . . of the Kingdom of Ceola" (H 156-59)
       "The Coming of the Spanish" (H 491-95)
       Otermin, "Letter on the Pueblo Revolt" (H 482-91)
       Vargas, "Letter on the Reconquest" (H 495-501)
       World Turned Upside Down 1-42
       Parker, "Iroquois" (H 59-62)
       Wingfield, from A Discourse of Virginia (H199-207)
       Smith, from The Generall Historie of Virginia (H 184-91)
                  from A Description of New England (H 192-98)

2/2    Morton, from New English Canaan (H 211-23)
       Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation (H 245-66)
       Winthrop, "Reasons . . . for the Plantation in New England" (photocopy)
                        "A Modell of Christian Charity" (H 223-34)
       Wood, "New England's Prospect" (photocopy)
       Williams, from A Key into the Language of America (H 267-87)
       World Turned Upside Down 78-87

2/9     from Bay Psalm Book (H 326-36)
       Winthrop, "J W's Christian Experience" (H 234-38)
       Bradstreet, poems (H 291-312) "To My Dear Children" (H 312-15)
       Wigglesworth, from The Day of Doom (H 317-26)
       Taylor, from Prep. Meditations, 2d ser., #s26, 115 (H 366-70, 393-95, 400-02)
       Rowlandson, from A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration (H 340-66)
       World Turned Upside Down 43-77

2/16   Alsop, "Traffique is the Earth's Great Atlas" (H 463)
       Cook, The Sot-weed Factor (H 640-58)
       Lewis, "A Journey from Patapkso" (H 658-68)
       Byrd, from History of the Dividing Line and Secret History (H 548-67)
       World Turned Upside Down 95-104, 115-26
       Franklin, "Narrative of the Late Massacres" (H 717-20, 733-44)
       Crevecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer (H 849-81)
       Barlow, "The Prospect of Peace" (H 1128-35)
       Freneau, "On the Causes of Political Degeneracy" (H 1067-68, 1083-85)

2/23   Murray, "Desultory Thoughts" (H 1050-55)
       Rowson, Charlotte Temple
       Edition of early American text due

3/2    World Turned Upside Down 170-85
       Brown, Edgar Huntly
       Distribute questions for Exam I

3/9    Spring Break

3/16   Exam I due
       (Class canceled)

3/23   Irving, "Rip Van Winkle" (H 1332-34, 1342-54)
       Cooper, from The Pioneers (H 1402-25)
       Hawthorne, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" (H 2190-2204) "Mrs. Hutchinson" (H 2272-76)
       Jemison, World Turned Upside Down 157-60
       Apess, "Eulogy on King Philip" (photocopy)
       Bryant, "The Prairies" (H 2670-72, 2677-80)
       Emerson, Nature (H 1578-1609)

3/30   Kirkland, A New Home, Who'll Follow?
       Cary, "My Grandfather" (H 2597-2607)  "Uncle Christopher's" (H 2607-2623)

4/6    Williams, Fall River
       Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (H 2397-2427) "Paradise of Bachelors and Tartarus of
          Maids" (H 2347-2454)
       Fern, "Soliloquy of a Housemaid" (H 2037-38, 2040-41)  "The Working Girls of New York"
          (H 2044-45)

4/13   Thoreau, Walden

4/20   Douglass, Narrative of the Life (H 1751-1818)
       Stowe, from Uncle Tom's Cabin (H 2305-60)
       Melville, "Benito Cereno" (H 2454-2511)

4/27   Whitman, "Song of Myself" (H 2743-94)
                           "Calamus" poems (2806-09)
                           "Out of the Cradle" (2809-14)
                           "As I Ebb'd" (2814-16)
                           "Drum-Taps" poems (2820-26)
                           "When Lilacs" (2826-33)
       Melville,  Battle-Pieces poems (H 2583-84)
       Dickinson, poems (H 2854-2918)
       Distribute questions for Exam II

Exam II due Wednesday, May 6, at 4:00

Microform resources for early and 19th-century American literature

All these materials are located in the Government Documents room on the 3rd floor of Wise Library.  You can make photocopies of any of the materials. Several microfilm/fiche viewers are equipped with copy machines.  The Readex opaque card reader and a fiche reader for small-format fiche (e.g., LAC) have recently been outfitted with digital scanners and a printer. Quality varies; a light font usually reproduces better than a heavy one. For assistance with these machines or with Wise's microform holdings in general, see Josephine Williams in the Gov't. Documents room (MWF 10-5, Sa 9-6, Su 1-9; 293-3051).

Early American Imprints ("Evans").  Readex microcards (opaque). Reproduces nearly all books published in early America.  Series I, 1640-1800.  Series II, 1801-1819 (Wise library holds only through 1813). Materials in this collection are not indexed on Mountainlynx or in the card catalog; however, some other library systems do include Evans entries in their main catalog databases, which you can search online--e.g., Harvard (telnet hollis.harvard.edu).

Charles Evans, American Bibliography, 14 vols.

Clifford Shipton and James Mooney, National Index of American Imp through 1800: The Short-Title Evans, 2 vols.

Ralph Shaw and Richard Shoemaker, American Bibliography: A Prelim Checklist 1801-1819, one vol. per year.

Richard Shoemaker, A Checklist of American Imprints 1820-1841, one per year.  No microcards accompany this bibliography.

Catalogue of Early American Imprints, 1640-1800 [data file].  CD-Index to Evans, searchable by author, title, date, publisher, key word, etc.

Library of American Civilization ("LAC").   Small-format microfiche.  Reproduces hard-to-find books and pamphlets from the 19th and early 20th c.   The Wise card catalog  contains LAC entries; however this information has not been included in Mountainlynx.

       LAC fiche #00001-00005: author, title, and subject indexes.
       The Microbook Library of American Civilization , 3 vols.: author, titlesubject.

American Periodicals.  Microfilm.  Reproduces most American periodicals through 1850.  Series I, 1741-1800.  Series II, 1800-1850.  (Series III, 1850-1900, exists but Wise does not hold it; if you are looking for a periodical from this time period, check the main serials record for other
microfilm or hard copy holdings in Wise.)

               Jean Hoornstra and Trudy Heath, American Periodicals, 1741-1900.

English Books, 1641-1700.  Microfilm.  Useful for locating books written by American authors or on American topics but published in England.

               University Microfilms, English Books, 1641-1700 . . . a Cross-Ind Years.   Gives reel numbers correlating with entries in Donald Wing, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, 1641-1700.  Wise also holds some microfilm accompanying Pollard and Redgrave, Short-Title Catalogue . . . 1475-1640; again, there is a University Microfilms cross-index.