English 320: American Renaissance (PDF Version)
T Th 12:30 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. MC 346
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
Spring Semester, 2010
Office: MC 533; Phone: 796-3485; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office hours: T Th 9 a.m. to 12 noon (By Appointment)
Description: Between 1850 and 1855, five American writers wrote Moby Dick, Leaves of Grass, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables, Walden and Representative Men. These authors (all white men) were a part of what is called an American Renaissance in Literature. But other authors were also a part of this burst of American letters: Harriet Wilson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan Warner, Fanny Fern, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, and Horatio Alger. Some of these writers were popular “sentimental” writers whose works outsold the “masterpieces” by Melville and Hawthorne. Other writers’ works fell into obscurity, but were re-discovered in the late 20th century. In this class we will read and discuss representative works by many of these 19th century authors. In our readings and our discussions, we will ask ourselves again and again, “What do I learn about myself and others from this literature?”
Required Texts: All are available in the university bookstore, but students are allowed to use library texts or e-texts.
Hawthorne’s Short Stories
- Great Short Works of Herman Melville
- Leaves of Grass
- The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
- Our Nig: Or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black
- Ragged Dick and Struggling Upward
- Ruth Hall and Other Writings by Fanny Fern
Click here for the university definitions of an excused and unexcused absence
- Click here for the university policy on sexual harassment
- Click here for the university policy on plagiarism
- If you are a person with a disability and require any auxiliary aids, services or other accommodations for this class, please see Jane Eddy in Murphy Center Learning Center 332 (796-3194) within ten days to discuss your accommodation needs. If there other accommodations that need to be made for you to succeed in the class, please indicate those needs to the instructor. Click here for a link to the Learning Center.
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- Thinking—Students engage in the critical and creative thinking
- Ethical Decision Making—Students respond to ethical issues
- Communication—Students communicate effectively orally and in writing
- Aesthetic Sensitivity—Students engage in artistic experiences and reflect critically upon them
- Cultural Sensitivity—Students demonstrate a respect for the diversity of the human experience
- Community Involvement—Students demonstrate responsible citizenship
Learning Outcomes for English 320:
Critically read and analyze a variety of texts:
- Apply an understanding of literary elements to the analysis of texts;
- Develop practices of close textual reading;
- Think critically about the place of literature in the human experience.
- Write effectively Invent, draft, revise, and edit effectively for various audiences and purposes.
English Department Student Learning Outcomes:
Links related to English Department Student Learning Outcomes:
· Thinking—The students will engage in critical thinking when they explicate or “close read” literary texts; when they identify formal elements such as point of view, literary language, symbolism, imagery; when they consider texts and authors in relation to historical, cultural, ideological, and theoretical contexts; when they compare what they are reading with what they have read previously; when they relate what they are reading to the wider world and to universal issues of human life. Click here for a Critical Thinking Web Page. Click here for a Logical Fallacies Web Page.
· Communication—The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their interpretations, insights, analyses, and evaluations of the assigned literature. Click here for the English Department’s Home Page on Writing a Critical Analysis of Literature.
· Aesthetic—The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of the elements of a “masterpiece” of young adult literature. The students will evaluate the lasting quality of literature from the formal and contextual elements embedded in the literature.
· Ethics—The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their responses to the ethical questions and dilemmas posed in the assigned readings. Ethics is generally defined as the principles of conduct governing an individual or group; concerns for what is right or wrong, good or bad. The students will not plagiarize. Click here for the Viterbo University plagiarism statement. Click here for the Viterbo University Institute of Ethics in Leadership Web Page.
· Cultural Sensitivity—The students will read various texts by diverse authors. The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of life values represented in different texts in relation to their own. Individual projects are designed to give the students an opportunity to move outside of their own culture and to study and interact with a new culture. Click here for the Viterbo University sexual harassment statement.
- Attendance: Students who have three or fewer absences during the semester will receive 100 points. Students who have four to six absences will receive 60 points. Any student who has more than six absences will be asked to withdraw from the course.
- Four Reflective Essays: Each essay is worth 100 points.
- One Critical Analysis: The critical analysis is worth 200 points and must include research and proper documentation.
Week One: January 18
Introduction: What is the American Renaissance?
Power Point Presentation
Reading Assignment: Read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays: “The American Scholar” and “Self-Reliance.”
Begin reading Ragged Dick and Struggling Upward by Horatio Alger
Week Two: January 25
Discussion: Continuation: “What Is the American Dream?”
Power Point Presentation: Walden
Week Three: February 1
Reading Assignment: Begin discussion of Ragged Dick
Click here for an E-text of Ragged Dick
Begin reading “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
Discussion questions on Ragged Dick
Click here for an excellent web site on Horatio Alger
Click here for the Horatio Alger Society web page
Week Four: February 8
Discussion: What is the American Dream?
Reading Assignment: Begin discussion of “Bartleby the Scrivener”; Begin reading “Billy Budd”
Click here for a web site on "Bartleby" with good links
Click here for discussion questions on "Bartleby the Scrivener."
*Read Billy Budd, Sailor, 2468
Click here for a useful web site on Billy Budd
See Dr. Lyon Evan's essay on Billy Budd on reserve in the library
Week Five: February 15
Discussion: How Shall I Live?
Reading Assignment: Begin discussion of “Billy Budd”;
Begin reading Henry David
Click here for Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience.
Click here for discussion questions on "Civil Disobedience."
Click here for Reader Response Questions on "Civil Disobedience."
Click here for a quiz on "Peacemakers."
Click here for the full text of Crito
Begin reading Our Nig by Harriet Wilson
Week Six: February 22
Reading Assignment: Our Nig; Begin reading Ruth Hall and Other Writings by Fanny Fern
Discussion Questions: What is Equality? Our Nig
Click here for Harriet Wilson’s Home Page.
Week Seven: March 1
Discussion: What is Gender?
Reading Assignment: Begin discussing “Other Writings” by Fanny Fern
Click here for a web site for Fanny Fern.
Begin reading Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and “The Minister’s Black Veil.”
Week Eight: March 8 (Spring Break)
Week Nine: March 15
Reading Assignment: Hawthorne’s short stories; Begin reading “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and “The Minister’s Black Veil”
Discussion: “The Birthmark”
Click here for a web site on Nathaniel Hawthorne .
Is Intelligence Evil? Read "The Disparity Between Intellect and Character" by Robert Coles. Click here for an ethics web page that discusses the essay.
Click here for discussion questions on "The Birthmark."
Click here for some good "on-line" questions on "The Birthmark" and "Young Goodman Brown." Click here for a web site devoted to Hawthorne's view of evil and particularly, the “Unpardonable Sin.”
Week Ten: March 22
Reading Assignment: “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and “The Minister’s Black Veil”
Week Eleven: March 29 (Easter Break, April 1–April 5)
Discussion: Continuation Hawthorne
Reading Assignment: Begin reading Whitman”s “Song of Myself”
Week Twelve: April 7
Discussion: Whitman: What do I Believe? “Song of Myself”
Power Point Presentation: “Song of Myself”
Reading Assignment: Begin reading Whitman and Dickinson
Click here for the Walt Whitman home page
Click here for John Townsend Trowbridge's essay on meeting Walt Whitman (printed in 1902)
Click here for a research and reference guide to Walt Whitman's life and works
Week Thirteen: April 12
Discussion: Whitman and Dickinson: Who Am I?
Dickinson: 709, 288, 214, 156
Whitman: “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” “Once I Pass’d Through a Populous City,” “Are You the New Person Drawn Toward Me?”
Click here for a web site on Emily Dickinson.
Click here for a web site for Thomas Wentworth Higginson with good links to Dickinson.
Click here for a web site of the Higginson correspondence with Dickinson.
Week Fourteen: April 19
Reading Assignment: Whitman and Dickinson, “Death”
Whitman: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
Power Point Presentation: “Memories of President Lincoln”
Dickinson: 465, 712,
Week Fifteen: April 26
Reading Assignment: Whitman and Dickinson, “God and Faith”
Whitman: “Chanting the Square Deific,” “A Noiseless Patient Spider,” “This Compost”
Dickinson: 324, 597, 1545, 1317
Week Sixteen: May 3
Reading Assignment: Whitman and Dickinson, “Sexuality”
Whitman: “A Woman Waits for Me,” “Spontaneous Me,” “Twenty-ninth Bather,”
Dickinson: 249, 211, 106, 1670
Week Seventeen: May 10 (Final Exam)
Tuesday, May 11, 12:50–2:50 p.m.