E 340 • The American Novel before 1920
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
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.
Three essays (two essays of 4-5 pages each, one essay of 8-10 pages) will make up the bulk of the final grade. Grading of written work will be on a portfolio basis, to provide opportunity and incentive for revisions. Attendance is mandatory; 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.
Attendance, Response Writings, Participation 30%
Foster, The Coquette
Tyler, The Algerine Captive
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin
James, The American
Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware