Course Description

ENG 370: American Literature I
University of Southern Mississippi
Professor Craig Carey
Spring 2014, TTh 1:00 – 2:15 PM, LAB 205
Office Hours: TTh 2:30 – 3:30 PM, M 3:00 – 4:00, and by appointment in LAB 342


This is the first of two courses comprising a selected survey of American literature, culture, and literary history. In this course, we will explore literature written during the period of discovery, exploration, and colonization; the age of Enlightenment and revolution; and a century of literary nationalism, reform, and Civil War. We will read across multiple genres while reflecting on the concept of “American literature” in the context of geographical, political, religious, intellectual, and literary change. Course requirements include active participation, informal writing exercises, three short papers, and a final exam.

Course Goals and Objectives

By the end of the course, students should have improved their ability:

  • To understand the formal and literary strategies used by different American writers from diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions.
  • To consider how cultural, technological, and political conditions informed how and what people wrote, and for what purpose.
  • To read across a variety of different genre and media, contextualizing forms of expression in the wider context of historical forces.
  • To understand “literature” as a category that encompasses not just fiction and poetry, but a range of genres including travel writing, sermons, personal narratives, histories, sketches, essays, tracts, speeches, and pamphlets.
  • To contextualize 20th century literature within the wider history of American literature.
  • To recognize the influence of cultural differences such as gender, ethnicity, race, geography, and class on the historical practice (and categorization) of reading, literature, and interpretation.

Required Texts and Materials

  • Nina Baym, ed., The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Shorter Eighth Edition) (Vol. 1), 978-0393918861
  • Hannah W. Foster, The Coquette (Oxford Paperbacks), 978-0195042399
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance (Oxford World’s Classics), 978-0199554867

Download the syllabus in PDF

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