This course offers a selected survey of early American literature, culture, and literary history. 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 historical emergence of “American literature” in the context of geographic, political, religious, intellectual, technological, and literary change. At the same time, we will also survey this field from the perspective of the 21st century, engaging with and reflecting on a range of digital tools, archives, and databases that are changing our relationship with literature and print history. Designed as a survey, we will chart multiple pathways through American literature in both print and digital environments, thinking through the field from a range of different perspectives. Course requirements include active and consistent participation, a reading journal, reading quizzes, two short papers, and a final exam.

Course Information:

  • Course Number: ENG 370
  • Term: Summer 2016
  • Time: Tuesday and Thursday 12:40–5:10 PM
  • Location: Liberal Arts Building 202

Professor Information:

  • Professor Craig Carey
  • Office: LAB 342
  • Office Phone: (601) 266-4072
  • Office Hours: T/TH 11-12, and by appt.
  • Email: craig.carey@usm.edu

Course goals and Objectives:

  • 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 navigate and critical engage print and digital resources in the field of American literature.
  • To understand how digital tools, archives, and databases are changing our relationship with the past and opening “history” to new methodological investigations.
  • 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 early 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.