AMERICAN LITERATURE COURSES
Claiming America as Homeland:
Competing Visions of History, Gender, and Race Relations
American Literature survey that traces the ways in which "America" was created and claimed as homeland by different groups of people from the seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. Students examine how different texts present competing meanings of God, empowerment, and freedom, as well as how different writers envision entrapment, escape, self-definition, and liberation. Readings include Native American myths, travel writings of European explorers and colonial residents, sermons, poetry, appeals, a novel, and autobiographies such as Mary Rowlandson's Indian captivity narrative, Olaudah Equaino's slave narrative, and Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.
The Discourse of Freedom and Captivity in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction
Upper-level American Literature course that examines how mid-nineteenth-century writers' imaginative visions were affected by the presence of slavery in their culture. Studying "classic" texts such as Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Herman Melville's Benito Cereno in the context of mid-nineteenth-century slavery discourse, the course explores the ways in which these writers--as well as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Lydia Sigourney, and Edgar Allan Poe--imagined freedom, captivity, guilt, and morality. An investigation of the relationship between truth, story-telling, fiction, and autobiography is also an essential part of the inquiry.
Race, Gender, and Identity: Growing Up in Twentieth-Century America
Upper-level American Literature course that introduces students to twentieth-century texts and traditions by examining the rich and complex ways a variety of writers have imagined what it means to grow up in twentieth-century America. Reading essays, novels, short stories, and autobiographies, students discuss how authors such as Ernest Hemingway, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Dorothy Allison envision the events and/or psychological realizations that mark the journey from childhood to adulthood. The vexed entanglements of relationships, the horror and pain of racism and incest, the joys and sorrows of parenting, and the significance of place--both geographical and psychological--are among the many topics explored.
"Dwelling in Possibility": Poetry, Politics, and American Ideals
Upper-level American Literature course that introduces students to the history of poetry in the United States from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth-centuries. In addition to charting relationships between writers, texts, and traditions, the course also considers the ways in which race, gender, and historical positioning affect poetic visions, as well as the writing of literary history. Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg, and Amiri Baraka are among the many poets studied.
American Women's Literature Courses
Behind A Mask:
Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and Their Work
Upper-level survey designed to acquaint students with the changing historiography of nineteenth-century women's literary history, as well as major authors such as Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Fanny Fern, and Harriet Jacobs. When taught at Brown University, students created an anthology of the essays they had conceptualized, drafted, and revised throughout the course of the semester.
American Women Writers and Their Work, 1870s-1920s
Upper-level seminar designed for American Civilization concentrators which uses the concepts of anger, rebellion, and artistry to investigate major historical and imaginative shifts in American women's literary traditions. Constance Fenimore Woolson, Mary Austin, and Pauline Hopkins are among the authors studied.
The Woman Artist in American Women's Literature
Beginning level seminar that explores the representation of the woman artist in stories
and novels by writers such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Rebecca Harding Davis, and
Kate Chopin. Introducing students to methods of feminist literary inquiry and the study of
literary history are primary goals. Among the many in-class exercises is an examination of
several editions of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, each of which is marketed for
a different audience.
The Politics of Race, Gender, and Genre in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Literature
Upper-level seminar that traces the ways in which white, African American, and Native American women writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Maria W. Stewart, and Zitkala-Sa responded to and created a gendered discourse of American race relations in fiction, speeches, essays, and slave narratives. For their research projects and oral presentations, students are required to relate an outside text, such as Melville's Benito Cereno or Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" to the course readings.
African American Literature Courses
Fighting For That
"Needful Beautiful Thing" Called Freedom:
Gendered Dialogues in African American Literature
Upper-level seminar that introduces students to the study of African American literature by examining pairs of texts from four historical periods. Reading one text by a man and one text by a woman for each period, students examine how gendered perspectives influence imaginings of slavery, freedom, survival, discrimination, emasculation, and rape. Harriet Jacobs is paired with Frederick Douglass; Anna Julia Cooper is paired with W.E.B. Dubois; Nella Larsen is paired with James Weldon Johnson; and Ernest Gaines is paired with Sherley Anne Williams.
Women's Studies Courses
"Diving into the Wreck:"
Gender Consciousness and Visions of Social Change
Women's Studies course that introduces students to the fundamental principles and methods of feminist critical analysis. Studying poems, novels and short stories by writers such as June Jordan, Anne Sexton, Toni Morrison, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, secondary sources such as Carolyn G. Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life and Tania Modleski's Loving With a Vengeance: Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women, as well as films such as Thelma & Louise and Waiting to Exhale, the course examines how women articulate a gendered consciousness as well as envision strategies to effect social change. Special attention is given to the ways in which historical struggles endure in the contemporary context.
"The Horizon Leans Forward, Offering You Space:"
Finding Voice, Vision, and Community in a Literate World
Basic writing course that introduces students to all aspects of the writing process, from the invention of ideas to the evaluation of completed essays. Through group work, peer review, and revision, students learn how to generate topics, formulate thesis statements, conceptualize arguments, and synthesize their own ideas as well as those of others.
Introduction to Literature Courses
"Tell All the Truth But Tell it Slant":
Reading and Writing About Literature's Slanted Truths
Introduction to Literature course that uses the rubric of "slanted truths" to teach basic concepts of literary analysis, such as point of view and narrative strategies. Students read short stories, poems, plays, laws, and letters that dramatize issues of justice, empowerment, and revenge. In addition to keeping a journal, students stage a trial and perform dramatic readings. Peer review and revision are required for analytical papers.