Print Version

Effective: Summer 2016

Prerequisites: Prerequisite: One of the following: ENGL 1A, 1AH, 1S & 1T or ESLL 26.
Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Humanities Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture. (48 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • Students can select an appropriate literary-critical vocabulary and concept (from a variety of possible approaches) and apply the vocabulary/concept to the interpretation of an assigned piece of historical fiction.
Description -
Representative works of American literature from Columbus's first voyage through the Civil War, focusing on the nature of entirely new literary forms, new cultural voices, and new ecological landscapes. Selections from Native American myths, legends, and autobiographies; reports of early Spanish explorers; English colonial histories and Puritan poetry; African American slave narratives and poems; Revolutionary War political texts; frontier tall tales; Gothic short stories; romantic fiction; and nature writing. Special emphasis on the contributions of diverse cultures in forging a distinctively American literature, landscape, and identity.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Develop critical thinking skills by:
    1. Evaluating, understanding, and interpreting major literary texts of this period.
    2. Applying a variety of critical and theoretical criteria to evaluation of the literature of this period.
    3. Analyzing and comparing competing cultural representations of America and its peoples by Native American, Spanish, English, African and other writers.
    4. Appraising the literature through interpretations and arguments in written and oral forms.
    5. Collaborating in clarifying, explaining, and resolving interpretive issues or problems.
    6. Comparing widely divergent male and female perspectives regarding the function of literature and women's role in society.
    7. Tracing the development of race and class in the evolution of American literature and society.
    8. Tracing the role of emerging ecological paradigms in shaping emerging American identities.
  2. Acquiring knowledge of the major periods, writers, texts, documents, and debates of American literature from 1492-1864 by:
    1. Applying the historical and the most recent tools of literary criticism.
    2. Analyzing the rich and diverse Native American, European, African, and Asian cultural influences in the development of American literature.
    3. Analyzing the development of a distinctive national political and aesthetic culture as reflected in the major writers and texts of this period.
    4. Analyzing the variety of ethical, philosophical, political, religious, and social perspectives in the literature of this period.
    5. Investigating the depiction of male and female gender roles in the development of the literature of this period.
    6. Assessing the origins and impact of slavery on American literature, politics, economics, and society.
    7. Demonstrating via discussion and in writing an awareness of the way America's past has shaped its linguistic, ecological, and political landscapes.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Critical Thinking: Students will develop critical reasoning skills and a broad knowledge of common literary critical theories through these specific activities:
    1. Employ a variety of contemporary literary critical approaches, such as textual, historicist, reader response, structuralist, archetypal, psychological, feminist, postcolonial, and cultural criticism.
    2. Recognize the major features of common genres of the period, including satire, lyric poetry, narrative poetry, drama, novel, narrative histories, Native American oral literature, Puritan spiritual meditations, African American slave narratives, autobiographies, and essays.
    3. Study examples of criticism and rhetoric of the periods to understand what features of literary style were most valued by writers during their own eras.
    4. Identify the role of literary representations in creating (and subverting) significant American political ideologies, including slavery and abolition, Manifest Destiny, the concept of inalienable rights, evolving gender roles, and conflicting attitudes toward sexuality.
  2. Periods, Authors, Genres: Students will develop knowledge of the relevant texts and concepts in the evolution of Early American Literature including:
    1. Pre-contact Native American oral literatures, such as myths, songs, and legends.
    2. Reports of the earliest Spanish and English explorers, such as Columbus, Cabeza De Vaca, Garcilaso de la Vega, Thomas Harriet and Captain John Smith.
    3. Puritan religious histories, diaries, letters, poems, and spiritual meditations by William Bradford, George Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, and/or others.
    4. Revolutionary war pamphlets, autobiographies, and political documents by writers such as Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Phyllis Wheatley
    5. African American slave narratives, poems, and speeches by authors such as Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, and/or Harriett Jacobs.
    6. Women's writing and women's issues including works by Elizabeth Bradstreet, Phyllis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, and Margaret Fuller
    7. Transcendentalist essays, poems, and/or autobiographies by authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller, including the pervasive influence of Buddhist and Vedic philosophies
    8. Gothic short stories by Hawthorne, Poe, Irving, and/or others.
    9. Frontier Fiction and Tall Tales by authors such as Irving and Boone
    10. Romantic Fiction by authors such as Hawthorne, Melville, and Stowe.
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Quizzes (comprehension, basic interpretation)
  2. Participation in class discussion
  3. In-class essays and tests, including final exam (analysis, argument, self-analysis, new synthesis)
  4. Formal papers (analysis, argument, self-analysis, new synthesis)
  5. Preparing and leading discussion groups
  6. Posters, oral presentations, critical reading journals, and similar activities
Representative Text(s) -
Baym. Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Eighth Edition. Champaign, IL: Norton, 2013.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vols A-B: Beginnings to 1865. Sixth Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture presentations on the history and interpretation of the assigned texts.
  2. In-class discussion of the assigned text including instructor-guided interpretation and analysis.
  3. Group presentations on inquiry projects focusing on key tools and skill sets in literary interpretation.
Lab Content -
Not applicable.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Daily assigned readings of from 5-50 pages drawn from recognized canonical works in American literature
  2. Brief introductory and literary critical readings designed to familiarize students with ongoing debates and perspectives in the study of American literature.
  3. Bi-weekly journals requiring research, summary, interpretation, analysis, and synthesis of original texts.
  4. Weekly essay examinations requiring in-depth analysis and synthesis of assigned texts