American Literature I: From the Beginnings to the Civil War

Course Description

This course is a survey of American literature and literary history, from the early colonial period to the eve of the Civil War. Our goal will be to acquire a grasp of the canon of American literature as it is typically conceived and the various logics behind its construction.

Topics to be considered include: the rise of “literature” as a discipline unto itself; the meaning of American individualism; the conflict between liberty and equality in American social thought; the mythology of American exceptionalism; the relation between history and cultural mythology; the dialectic of freedom and slavery in American rhetoric; the American obsession with race; the ideology of domesticity and its link to the sentimental; the aesthetics of American romance; the role of biography in literary criticism and historiography; the nature of the “American Renaissance”; what it means to say “NO in thunder!” and why so many American writers seem to say it; deliberative democracy and cosmopolitanism.

View the official course website for a list of readings used for this course: http://www.nyu.edu/academics/open-education/coursesnew/ameri...

Copyright Information

The content in these courses are being shared under a Creative Commons license of Attribution (BY), Non-Commercial (NC), Share-Alike (SA). More info here: http://www.nyu.edu/academics/open-education/terms-of-use.htm...
American Literature I: From the Beginnings to the Civil War
Mark Twain and Walt Whitman are one of the many influential American authors to be studied in this course.



 

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