Assignment #1--Native Cultures, Discovery, Exploration, and Colonization


--Criticism--(Click on two links below)
Greenblatt, Stephen. "Culture." Critical Terms for Literary Study. Eds. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. U of Chicago P, 1995. 225-32.
Selection from Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden. Oxford UP. 1964. 34-57.

Heath Anthology Vol. A pp. 1-22.
Zuni, Navajo, Lakota, Seneca, Iroquois, Hitchiti, Yuchi Stories HA 22-58; 64-66
Columbus HA 120-31
Cabeza de Vaca HA 141-52
Pueblo Revolt--2 Perspectives HA 196-207
Samuel de Champlain HA 223-34
Thomas Harriot HA 239-46
John Smith HA 258-66
William Shakespeare. The Temptest 

Web Sites:

--Native American



--Maps and Images


1) Explain the relationship between the "primitive" and the "pastoral" in Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden. How does this relationship apply to any of the texts we have read thus far?

2) Using any of the Explorers we have read about as examples, demonstrate how their description of the New World, its geography, resources, people, etc. is influenced by their motives for exploration.

From your readings and your examination of maps and Illustrations from the time period, what are the primary concerns, hopes, fears, etc. of the explorers as they encounter new lands and new people?

4) How would you describe any of the native peoples you have encountered in your readings? What, if any, similarities exist between native and colonizing cultures? What fundamental differences exist in the way people and their cultures conceptualize the world?

5) Can you identify Stereotypes in the explorers' and colonizers' minds that facilitate hostility, inhumanity, depravity? Specify where, in the readings, you have found these?

6) What similarities exist between Shakespeare's characters, plot, and setting in The Tempest and the actual exploration and colonization texts you have read?

7) Is America an earthly paradise (a Garden of Eden) or is it a hideous wilderness? Refer to any of our readings as proof.

Assignment #2--The Puritans


Morton HA 296-307
Bradford HA 326-32, 334-45
Hawthorne "The Maypole of Merrymount":
Winthrop HA 309-17
Williams HA 365-367
Bradstreet HA 396-97, 402-410
New England Primer HA
Rowlandson HA 440-68
Taylor HA 478-81
Mather HA 509-16

Heath Anthology Vol. A, 289-93

Web Sites:

--Puritan Authors

--Voices of Dissent

--Maps and Images

The Crucible by Arthur Miller; Film directed by Nicholas Hytner (1996)


8) What is the "Covenant of Works" and the "Covenant of Grace"? How might these concepts affect the way Puritans viewed their existence in New England? What readings do you see these concepts working in?

9) What role does the image of a "city upon a hill" play in Puritan belief and community life? What readings refer to this image or others like it?

10) How did the Puritans deal with dissent in their community? Was there any room for difference? What about Puritan belief could have led to this dissent?

11) Compare the poetry of Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor. Which seems more authentic, personal, didactic, original or complex? Why?

12) How did the Pilgrims/Puritans view native peoples and the wilderness they inhabited? What role did the natives, the landscape, and/or nature play in the way early settlers in New England viewed themselves and their mission?

13) What did daily events and objects mean to Puritans in light of their mission? How might their typological view affect their view of themselves in New England?

Assignment #3--The Enlightenment, Revolution, and Citizenship


Heath Anthology Vol A pp. 565-83; 633-44; 800-02

Edwards HA 656-76
Handsome Lake HA 803-04
Franklin HA 808-13; 828-86
Crevecoeur HA 928-57
Paine HA 959-65
Adams HA 981-82
Adams/Jefferson HA 986-88
Madison et al. HA 1027-41
Jefferson HA 1057-61
Equiano HA 1154-85
Wheatley HA 1247; 1249-50
Tyler HA 1293-34


-Overviews and Documents

--Maps and Images


14) What differences have you noticed between the way these authors viewed individuality and the way the Puritans did?

15) Compare the vision of "America" some of the political figures in this era had with that of early explorers and the Puritans. What strategies do they use to portray it as harmonious? What strategies do they use to ensure harmony and deal with dissent?

16) What are the basic arguments about human nature that Paine and Jefferson make? What about Franklin, Madison, or Edwards?

17) To what extent are Africans included and excluded from the political and human rights rhetoric circulating at this time? What Strategies do authors like Equiano and Wheatley use to be included in this discourse? How do you think Jefferson and other "Founding Fathers" justified exclusions from the very freedoms they fought for?

18) To what ends do these authors write? What is the motivation behind their creative and political publications? Is this different from any of the other authors/periods we have looked at?

19) What role do women have in the new republic? To what end are they citizens? What gains/losses has a political revolution given them?

20) What does the "public" architecture from this period tell you about how early American viewed the public and the government's roll in the public sphere?

Assignment #4--Romanticism, the Individual, Imagination, and Fiction


Heath Anthology of American Literature Vol. B 1389-1400; 1405-10; 1412-15

Emerson HA 1582-1609
Thoreau HA 1753-87
Irving HA 2153-84
Cooper HA 2187-2200
Hawthorne HA 2245-67;2276-87; 2244-45; 2231-2444
Poe HA 2472-85;2492-2501; 2515-2521
Melville HA 2625-51; Moby Dick



21) According to Emerson the individual can reach a transcendant state in Nature. How does this happen? What are the consequences for individuals, for perception, for their relationship with the divine?

22) Emerson suggests that "poets are . . . liberating gods." Explain this phrase. How does the poet's use of language provide this liberation? What does the poet liberate?

23) Thoreau's idea of civil disobedience has long reaching consequences for both the individual and for political change. How is civil disobedience liberatory? What other movements or causes have employed Thoreau's ideas? Are there any dangers inherent in Thoreau's thinking? Is Thoreau's ideal of simplistic living really obtainable? What are the benefits/disadvantages such a life presents for us?

24) How would you characterize Poe's characters/stories? Are they "scary," "horrifying"? Why or why not? How might these stories relate to what we know about the imagination?

25) Trace the role ambiguity plays in Hawthorne's works. Can you identify Hawthorne's attitude towards experience, or sin, or the Puritans, or Americans for that matter?

26) Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville are venerated male authors who influenced women writers during this time (Poe as an editor) and created fictional worlds in which women were supposed to operate (The Scarlett Letter, "The Birth-mark," "Paradise of Bachelors . . ." etc. Are any of the women or their problems portrayed at all in a way we would call realistic? Are the problems they encounter genuine concerns, or are they the creation of narrow-minded male authors?

27) What do you think Melville's take on Truth is? Can we ever know what is true or real? What role does perspective play in his fiction?

28) Would you characterize Benito Cereno as an effective anti-slavery tract? What is at issue in this story that might have influenced 19th-century readers sympathy or anger towards slavery?

Assignment #5--Slavery and the Literature of Protest


Heath Anthology of American Literature Vol B
1400-1412; 1825-26

Garrison HA 1840-41
Douglass HA 1882-1945
Jacobs HA 2031-2041; 2047-2054
Truth HA 2096
Melville 2669-2715 or 2716-24
Stowe 2549-61
Thoreau HA 1738-52
Child HA 1844-45
Stanton HA 2113-15
Davis HA 2838-63



--Maps and Images;idno=AJA7398.0001.001 (Josiah Nott's Types of Mankind )


27) How do these writers both appropriate and undermine rights discourse used at the founding of America? Refer to specific examples from our readings. (Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independance, etc.)

28) Identify any similar characteristics of the two slave narratives that you read. What moments are most essential to the narrators? Why?

29) How do Douglass and Jacobs use the realities of and arguments for slavery against slavery itself?

30) To what extent is civil disobedience beneficial to a community? How is it dangerous? Is it a viable tool for political change?

31) Are the anti-slavery and suffrage movements compatible? How are their ends similar/different?

32) How have various authors represented the problems of slavery/native American removal/women's suffrage? Are imaginative presentations of the social issues more or less effective than descriptive and argumentatvie rhetoric?

Assignment #6--Poetry and Perspective



Heath Anthology of American Lit. Vol. B 1415-20; 2864-66

Poe HA 2521-46
Bryant HA 2888-93
Whitman HA 2937-82;2995-99; 3007;3013-20
Emerson HA 1638-53
Dickinson HA 3046-81
Lincoln HA 2078-79
Longfellow HA 2898-2903



--Poetry Essentials

33) What are the elements of a poem used to analyze form and content? Can you do this for a few of the poems?

34) Poe's "Philosophy of Composition" outlines some pretty rigid guidelines for a poem. Does he follow these in "The Raven"? What about "annabel Lee"?

35) What are Emerson's guidelines for the American poet he calls for? Do any of the poets fit that bill? Why or why not?

36) Would you consider Longfellow and/or Bryant as complex, insightful, and relevant as Whitman and Dickinson? Why?

37) Poe has been called a "blind poet," and Whitman has been criticized for taking in too much. How do these perspectives result in their respective conclusions about death?

38) How do the speakers in Dickinson's poetry offer a unique perspective on death, nature, or any other topic we have covered in class? Is this perspective Romantic? Does it harken back to the Puritans or any other group we have mentioned?

260 Syllabus

260 Schedule