Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
english masthead
english masthead
Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2010

E 395M • Re-authorizing the American Renaissance

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Meeting time, location: (Official course schedule)

Ah, "The American Renaissance": our curriculum's most comforting literary thing-in-itself and our profession's most contested scholarly construction. "It" has been reconfigured, reconstructed, repositioned, and subjected to a battery of vigorous revisionary interventions. The undergrad who signs on for a chance to read Moby-Dick has pretty good odds of encountering the Whale; the one who hopes to avoid reading The Scarlet Letter once again may well be out of luck. But that leaves plenty of syllabus space to negotiate.

The so-called “New Americanists” have been particularly vociferous on this channel. Now it’s up to you, the newest Americanists, to weigh in on various canons old and new (including the new-old - some New Americanists still read Emerson, Hawthorne, and Melville - and the old-new – Tompkins’ Stowe is no longer a true newcomer, and Douglass no longer lacks champions, curricular or scholarly).

More traditional authors will be re-read in view of some of the more recent scholarship (especially from scholars who have taken into account the institutional history of the criticism). And we'll be reading some of the more-newly-nominated works alongside selections from the nominating criticism. We will begin, for example, with "The Confessions of Nat Turner" and Eric Sundquist's "Signs of Power" from To Wake the Nations. Another pairing in this vein will be The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta and Timothy Powell’s Ruthless Democracy: A Multicultural Interpretation of the American Renaissance. We’ll conclude with a look at the fiction of Elizabeth Stoddard, long rumored to be a worthy candidate for syllabus inclusion, even by old canon criteria.


Self-Reliance and other Essays, Ralph Waldo Emerson

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass

Woman in the Nineteenth Century, Margaret Fuller

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta John Rollin Ridge

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Song of Myself & Selected Poems, Walt Whitman

Stories (or The Morgesons), Elizabeth Stoddard

supplemental readings will be made available via E-Reserves


bottom border