English 220:01 – Survey of American Literature I
MC 432. MWF  9-9:50 a.m.
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D. Office:  MC 446
Fall Semester, 2006 Phone: 796-3485; E-mail: gtsmith@viterbo.edu
Office hours: MWF 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Text: Norton Anthology of American Literature,  Seventh Edition, Volumes A and B

Norton Anthology (a handbook with many valuable links)
Heath Handbook  (a handbook with useful links)
Click here for helpful English Department web sites

Course Description and Objectives: This course is designed to introduce students to the major writers of the United States before 1820. We shall study the literature in a chronological/historical sequence. We shall connect the authors and their literature to the appropriate ethnic, literary, geographical, and political environments within which they wrote; and the ideologies or religious beliefs that influenced their readers.

Central to our study are the questions: What is American literature? What is "American" about the literature? What aesthetic criteria define American literature? Who establishes those criteria? In answering these questions we shall explore several themes: (1) self-knowledge and self-deception, (2) representation of gender, class, and race, (3) religion as individual and social phenomena, (4) sources and uses of power, (5) attitudes toward technology and the natural world, and (6) history and the individual’s relationship to it.

Format: Class sessions will consist of lectures, discussions, group activities, and individual presentations. I expect the students to read carefully the assigned texts and be able to discuss the relationship between each selection and the various themes listed above.


Core Abilities:

·        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

Student Learning Outcomes

·        Thinking—The students will engage in critical thinking whey 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.

·        CommunicationThe 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 . 

·        AestheticThe 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.

·        EthicsThe 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.

·        Cultural SensitivityThe 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 university’s statement on sexual harassment.


Course Requirements and Grading Policy:

I am trying something different this year.  I have only four requirements of you this semester, if you do all of them, you will receive an A, if you don’t, then you will receive something less than an A.  The first requirement is steady attendance.  If you have three or fewer unexcused absences during the semester, then you will satisfy the “A” component for attendance.  If you have four or five unexcused absences, then you will satisfy the “B” component and will not receive a grade higher than AB.  If you have six or more unexcused absences, then you will satisfy the “D” component and you will not receive a grade higher than C.  The second requirement is a bi-weekly electronic journal.  Now, I must admit that I am deceiving you a bit here, because included in the bi-weekly journal will be occasional formal writings.  But as long as you keep your journal current and “interesting,” then you will satisfy the “A” component for the journal.  If you don’t keep the journal current and interesting, then you may have to be satisfied with something less than an A.  How will you know if the journal is “interesting?”  I will tell you when I return your journal to you.  If the entry isn’t acceptable, I will ask you specific questions and give you a deadline for the response; and, I will direct you to descriptions of good college writing.  Click here for suggested journal topics.  However, most of your journal assignments will be specific to the reading assignments.  I am asking each of you to complete a term project this semester.   Click here for possible term project topics and grading criteria for the projects. The last requirement is to read the assigned texts.  Of course you will have to read in order to write.   Occasionally you will be asked to read material not on the course text list.  This may seem like a lot of reading, but you are college students and you are expected to be well read!  Also, you should leave Viterbo with a liberal arts education, and you can’t do that if you don’t read—a lot!  And remember, you don’t have any exams or quizzes for this class!

To make this assignment experiment work, all of you will have to keep up with the syllabus because it may change from day to day.  The syllabus is a narrative.  I am talking to you through the syllabus, and so I want you to talk back to me and your peers.  You may also converse with me through my "blog" page: Discovering American Literature.


Click here for a rubric for evaluating your participation in the class.  You will complete this rubric during the final exam.  I will use it to helpl determine your grade for the semester.  I will also keep a record of your attendance and your journal entries.  Please note that attendance, reading, and journaling are included in the self-evaluation. 

Click here for a site on how to get an A on a formal essay.  Look at this site often, especially when you are asked to write a formal essay for a journal assignment.  We shall go over this rubric and others in class.

Helpful Web Sites

Click here for the On-Line Books Page
Click here for the table of contents for a research and reference guide to American literature 


Week One: August 27

Defining American Literature; Defining an American; Are We Still Puritans?  The Paradox of Being an American
*Read J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur, 595-616; "Letter III" 596

Click here for a research and reference guide to De Crevecoeur

Click here for a research and reference guide to early American literature
Click here for a timeline of movements in American literature

Click here for discussion questions for "Literature to 1620."

John Smith, 55-71
Click here for a John Smith web site with links to articles and images
Click here for a Pocahontas web site with links to articles and images
Click here for a 1616 letter from John Smith to Queen Anne
Click here to find out if Pocahontas saved Captain John Smith
Click here for the painting of the Baptism of Pocahontas


Are you an American?  Take this quiz to find out.

Do we still believe America is a City on the Hill?  What does President Bush say about America and religion?

Week Two: September 3 (Labor Day)

William Bradford, 104-137

John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity" 147; Compare Winthrop to Thomas Morton

Anne Bradstreet, 187-216
Click here for discussion questions on Bradstreet

Click here for a web site on Anne Bradstreet with good links to other sources
Click here for an index to Anne Bradstreet's poetry with links to Edward Taylor and Michael Wigglesworth
Click here for a close reading of several of Bradstreet's poems
Click here for a research and reference guide to Anne Bradstreet

Edward Taylor, 267-287

Send to me your first journal entry at the end of the week.  For the first entry you can address any of the discussion questions  listed in the first two weeks.  Send the entry as a MICROSOFT WORD attachment to gtsmith@viterbo.edu  

Week Three: September 10

*Cotton Mather, "Bonifacius"  Read Mather's "Parental Resolutions" -- How much have we changed as parents and children?

Click here for John Gast's painting American Progress

Click here for some modern examples of "typology."

*Read Jonathon Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" 425  Click here for Edwards' Resolutions
Click here for the Jonathon Edwards web page

Week Four: September 17

*Read Benjamin Franklin, "The Way to Wealth" 451
Click here for a web site on "irony."

John Adams and Abigail Adams, 616-628

Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" 630  Click here for President Bush's speech to West Point Graduates.
Click here for a web site that contains the full text of many of Paine's works

Send to me on Friday your second journal entry.  You have two choices for this journal entry:  a response to one of Bradstreet's poems, or a response to the juxtaposition of Edwards and Franklin

Does the American Dream still exist?  Check out Sanchez Trucking

Week Five: September 24 

*Read Thomas Jefferson, "Declaration of Independence" 651
Click here for a research and reference guide to Thomas Jefferson
Click here for the painting of Washington crossing the Delaware

*Phillis Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America" 752

Week Six: October 1  (Feast of St. Francis, Thursday, October 4)
Click here for Thomas Cole's The Course of an Empire

Read "American Literature: 1820-1865" Volume B, 929-950

*Read Washington Irving, 9951; "Rip Van Winkle" 953
Click here for another link to Washington Irving
Click http://www.artchive.com/artchive/hudsonriver.html for the Hudson River School of Painters 

Read William Cullen Bryant, 1044; "To a Waterfowl" 1047

Send to me on Friday your third journal entry.  For this entry, please respond to any painting by any Hudson River School of Painters or respond to Irving or Bryant


Week Seven: October 8

*Read Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1106; "Thoreau," 1231; "The American Scholar, 1138; and "Self-Reliance" 1163.
Click here for discussion questions on "Emerson and the Self."
Click here for an overview of American Transcendentalism
Click here for an essay on Emerson and Religion

Week Eight: October 15 (fall break, Friday, October 19)

*Read Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1272; "The Minister's Black Veil," 1311; "The Birthmark" 1320; "Rappaccini's Daughter," 1332.
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 discussion questions on "Young Goodman Brown"

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." 
The Scarlet Letter, 1377
Click here for discussion questions on The Scarlet Letter
Click here for Classic Notes on The Scarlet Letter


Week Nine: October 22 (Prospectus for Term Project due)

Click here for a sample prospectus outline
Click here for a suggested outline for the oral presentation

Read Poe's "Sonnet--To Science" 1532; "The Fall of the House of Usher," 1553

Read Lincoln's "Second Inaugural Address," 1635

Read Margaret Fuller, 1637; "The Great Lawsuit" 1640  Click here for an outline on liberal feminism and cultural feminism. 

Fanny Fern, 1792; "A Law More Nice than Just," 1802

Click here for a web resource on Fanny Fern and here for notes on Fanny Fern 

Week Ten: October 29

Read Rebecca Harding Davis, 2507; Life in the Iron Mills 2599

Frederick Douglass, 2060

Week Eleven: November 5

Read Henry David Thoreau, 1853; "Resistance to Civil Government" 1857
Click here for discussion questions on "Economy"

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 Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
   Click here for the full text of Crito
Click here for an interesting web site on Thoreau
Click here for an additional Thoreau web site

Third Journal Entry Due:  Free Topic

Week Twelve: November 12 (No class on November 16) 

*Read Walt Whitman, 2125  "Are You the New Person Drawn Toward Me?"
Click here for the Walt Whitman home page
Click here for a poetry home page for Walt Whitman
Click here for easy access to Whitman's works in hypertext
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: November 19 (Thanksgiving, November 22) 

Read Herman Melville, 2304
*Read "Bartleby the Scrivener" 2363
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

Fourth Journal Entry Due:  Use any of the Discussion Questions for Whitman or Melville

Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen: November 26, December 3

Emily Dickinson, 2554
Emily Dickinson website http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/edisindex.html
Click here for a second web site on Dickinson and Whitman
Click here for a web site for Thomas Wentworth Higginson with good links to Dickinson.  Click on Dollie for an intriguing poem by Dickinson
Click here for a web site of the Higginson correspondence with Dickinson

Week Sixteen: December 11

Final Exam:  Friday, December 14, 12:50 - 2:50 p.m.

Final Journal Entry:  Respond to one of the oral exam questions and bring it to class.

The Final Project is due any time during Finals Week

Final Exam:  Click here for oral exam questions