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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008

E 340 • The American Novel before 1920

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35305 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
PAR 204

Course Description

In our readings of earlier American novels, we will pay attention to religion as a thematic element as well as a structuring principle. For example, while reading early instances of the sentimental, the gothic, and the picaresque, we will conduct a speculative inquiry into how these novelistic genres might express some of the tendencies of conversion morphologies, including Puritan-approved and antinomian varieties. The tradition of the captivity narrative, which often overlaps with conversion narrative, will also play a part in our account. Although the question of religion as such will not command our entire focus, we will attempt to sustain a consistent concern with the interplay between narrative, genre, and conversion.

Grading Policy

Two short (5-6 page) papers and one slightly longer (6-8 page) term paper will make up the bulk of the final grade. Papers will be graded on a "portfolio" basis to afford opportunity and incentive for revisions. Attendance is mandatory; repeated unexcused absences will affect your grade. Some combination of brief focused response writings and/or reading quizzes will be a regular feature of the course, to be used as catalysts for discussion. Also, once or twice you may be asked to facilitate discussion be preparing a "question of the day."

Essays 70%
Attendance, Response Writings, Participation 30%


Brown, The Power of Sympathy
Foster, The Coquette
Brown, Wieland
Melville, Typee
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Fern, Ruth Hall
Supplementary readings will be made available during the semester.


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