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English 361: American Literature from the

Beginnings to Mid-Nineteenth Century: Reading


and Writing for Social Reform
Dr. Larisa Schumann
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Lincoln Meets Stowe Course Description


by Bruno Lucchesi Selected works from colonial literature through the American Renaissance,
including Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, and Thoreau.

When Harriet Beecher Stowe first met President Abraham Lincoln, he reportedly said, “So you are the
little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!'” And while it open to debate that Stowe
did start the American Civil War, her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin was tremendously important in
promoting the abolitionist cause and ending slavery in the United States.

Even before Stowe, American writers were advocating social change for their own lives, the lives of
Native Americans, immigrants, children, and promoting issues such as education, civil liberties, equal
pay for equal work, suffrage, marriage reform, and freedom from gender discrimination. This course will
examine different literary genres (essays, poems, novels, short stories, and visual texts) to examine how
Americans have advocated for social change from Colonial times to the present.
Prerequisite: ENGL 251
Guiding Questions
➢ What is an American?
➢ What literary/textual products do Americans create?
➢ What is the American Dream?
➢ What needs to be reformed in the USA? And why?
➢ What is reader response theory and how does it inform our reading of texts?
➢ What about other critical frameworks or theories?

Required Texts

1. The Bedford Anthology of American Literature, Volume One: Beginnings to 1865, 2nd Edition,
Edited by Susan Smith Belasco & Linck Johnson ISBN-13: 978-0312678685
2. Uncle Tom's Cabin; Or Life Among the Lowly (1852) by George Aiken based on the novel by
Harriet Beecher Stowe ISBN: 9780937657492
3. Reading & Writing about Literature, by Janet E. Gardner & Joanne Diaz, 4th Edition, ISBN-13:
978-1319035365
4. Other texts as noted on the course schedule
Other Required Reading
 Handouts & readings for class work
 Handouts from classmates’ presentations
 Online postings on class site (Canvas)
 Images and video clips posted on Canvas

Learning Outcomes & Objectives


University Specific Learning Outcomes

Course Specific Learning Objectives


➢ Explore how race, class, and gender influence literary production and interpretation.
➢ Consider how literary studies contributes to new understandings of the past.
➢ Familiarization with genres, forms, conventions, and other special uses of language in reform
writing in the United States of America.
➢ Acquire and implement the skills of critical reading and intelligent discussion.
➢ Work in small groups and collaborate with classmates.

Instructional Methods
 This course will be structured as a lecture class, with group learning activities and student
presentations. A typical class day will include a quiz, discussion based on journal entries, a
student presentation, lecture about assigned reading, audiovisual presentations, activities/work
with the literature, and pointers about writing.
 Taking notes will prepare you for exams and other writing activities. Please bring notebook
paper and pens or pencils for note taking and in-class writing activities.
 Laptops may only be used in class for specific in-class activities.

Assignments (expanded assignment descriptions will be posted online)


Please note – this course is “paperless,” meaning you will submit all assignments through our course site
(Canvas). All graded assignments will be returned to you this way. The only paper you will turn in will be
for quizzes and exams.

◆ Reading quizzes: 10%. 6 quizzes, (with 1 optional/bonus quiz). Usually 5-10 multiple choice or
matching questions to prepare you for class discussion and give you an incentive to complete
the reading.
◆ Blog/Reading Journals: 15%. 13 entries, 7 of your own, and six responses to classmates. These
entries are less formal writing that should show you not only read the assigned reading, but
were able to make significant connections between the text and other texts (such as previous
readings, current events, or personal experiences). This is a space to do some deep thinking
about the text or ask more questions about it, that will help you prepare for class discussions,
quizzes, and exams. It is also a space to show off your skills in writing in “New Media.” The
design of your blog will be important, though your focus should be on content. You can make
your blog through sites such as Blogger or Weebly. You will need to subscribe to our class blog
as well since that is where the online journal/blog prompts will be posted. Details about the blog
postings and grading criteria will be posted on our class site.
◆ Midterm Exam: 15% on readings from week 1 to week 8. The test will feature multiple choice,
matching, and short answer questions.
◆ Presentation & Short Paper: 10% & 10% you will present a critical reading of a short text (from
an approved list) using New Media, such a PowerPoint or Movie Maker. Then you will write a
short paper extending your critical reading from your presentation. Ideally, you should turn in
the paper the week after you complete your presentation. Papers must be submitted through
the drop box on Pearson Learning Studio. More details to come.
◆ Final Project: 20% Choose from three options for this assignment; a traditional research paper,
an annotated bibliography, or a creative project & presentation. More details to come.
◆ Final Exam: 15% on readings from week 9-15. The test will feature multiple choice, matching,
and short answer questions. Given on the final exam day.
◆ Attendance & Participation: 5% this grade reflects how well you participate in class discussions
and how often you come to class.

Course Policies and Requirements

Grading: It is important to remember that simply fulfilling the minimum requirements of the course
warrants an average grade (as in C), not an A. Coming to class every day and doing assignments is not
something that earns “extra credit” or an automatic A; it’s expected by your being in the course. A
higher grade will be based on the distinctive quality and development of your work, on your ability to
engage critically with a text, and on a willingness to explore new subjects, genres, and techniques.

Grading Scale A= excellent, outstanding 4 A- 3.67


B+ 3.33 B =exceeds expectations (with some excellent 3 B- 2.67
aspects)
C+ 2.33 C=satisfactory, meets expectations 2 C- 1.67
D+ 1.33 D=poor 1 D- 0.67

Quizzes and Exams will be graded on a point scale.

Students who take the course for Pass/No Pass will merely receive a “pass” or “no pass” grade on their
assignments. You can access grades online at our Pearson Learning Studio site (formerly eCollege).

Attendance: Regular attendance is necessary to your success in this course. It is university policy that
only official university absences are excused. Students representing the school in a university-mandated
activity that requires missing class should provide official documentation of schedules and turn in work
in advance. Absences will reduce your grade. Attendance is essential to success in this class. Also, no
assignments will be accepted if you miss class the day it is due. Students whose absences are due to
circumstances beyond their control may appeal this policy by scheduling a meeting with their adviser.
To do well in this course, you must come to class.

Tardies: Please be on time for class. Students who are tardy (five minutes late or more) are a distraction
to the whole class. And being late is not professional behavior. Keep in mind that missed in-class work
cannot be made up.
Late Work: Journals are due before class. Writing assignments are due by 11:59 PM on the days
specified on the schedule. Quizzes and exams can only be taken in class on the days noted. Work will not
be accepted after that. If you know you will be missing a class, you need to submit the assignment
ahead of time. This course relies heavily on technology, so you will need to have reliable access to the
internet, which is always available in several places (including the library) on campus. Problems with
technology (i.e.: computer crash, printer malfunction, internet connectivity issues, etc.) are not
acceptable excuses for submitting late work. Plan ahead to avoid last minute crises. Note: Exceptions
will be made for extenuating circumstances such as those with documentation and/or natural disasters
and so forth.

Classroom Atmosphere: Our classroom is a place where all of us can share our ideas, thoughts, and
questions without fear or embarrassment. Let's show respect for each other and be kind. Infractions to
the Honor Code will be reported.

Office Hours: During the office hours posted above, I will be in my office and available to talk with you
about any questions, comments, or concerns you have about the course. Please stop by and see me
during these hours—that time is yours. If the hours don’t work for you, come make an appointment
with me.

Technologies: Please turn cell phones and any other electronics off during class. You’ll be notified in
advance if you should bring laptops to class for work; otherwise, keep them closed during class. Texting,
checking Facebook, etc. from your phone or computer means you’re not engaging in the daily activities
of our course. If you are using your electronics during class, it will negatively impact your
professionalization grade (and your final grade). When you are in class, be “in” class – alert, attentive,
and ready to contribute.

Netiquette: Communication Courtesy Code All members of the class are expected to follow rules of
common courtesy in all email messages and other online work. If I deem any of them to be
inappropriate or offensive, I will forward the message to the Chair of the department and the online
administrators and appropriate action will be taken, not excluding expulsion from the course. The same
rules apply online as they do in person. Be respectful of other students. Foul discourse will not be
tolerated. See the following link concerning "netiquette" for more information:
http://www.albion.com/netiquette/ Participating in the virtual realm, including social media sites and
shared-access sites sometimes used for educational collaborations, should be done with honor and
integrity. You can read more here: http://macaulay.cuny.edu/community/honorable-
technology/guidelines/

Disabilities Statement:

Academic Misconduct/Plagiarism
Course Schedule

What is an American? What is the American Dream?


Week 1 Course Introduction
Day 1 Hughes, Langston. “I, Too, Sing America,” and “Let America Be American Again.”
Lazarus, Emma. “The New Colossus.”
Aldrich, Thomas Bailey. “Unguarded Gates.”
de Crevecoeur, J. Hector St. John. “What is an American?” Letters of an American Farmer.
“My Country 'Tis of Thee” and “America, the Beautiful”
Day 2 Journal #1 due before class time
Reading: Introduction, (volume 1, p. 1-27)
Discussion of Readings, “Discovered & Settled”
Critical Theories Introduced (see Gardner)
Week 2 Reading: Intros (v. 1, p. 62-65, 93-106); James (v. 1, p. 149+); Momaday (p. 55-59)
Day 1 Quiz #1
Presentations: 1. Columbus (66+) & 2. Murray (188+)
Discussion: of Readings & Paula Gunn on Pocahontas (120+)
Week 2 Reading: Introduction, (V.1, p. 311-333); Journal #2 due before class time
Day 2 Presentations: 3. Franklin by Twain (372+) & 4. Tecumseh (463+)
Discussion: Revolution Poetry & The Vanishing Indian
Articulating the Dream: What is American literature?
Week 3 Reading: Literature for a New Nation (467-75); Who Reads an American Book?
Day 1 (476-77) and Irving’s “The Wife” (525-530); Journal #3
Presentations: 5. Cooper (493+) & 6. Wheatley (503+)
Discussion: Print Culture
Week 3 Reading: Sedgwick (543+); Quiz #2
Day 2 Presentations: 7. Irving (530+) & 8. Bryant, “The Prairies” (573+)
Discussion: Gift Books & Women's Writing
Reforming the Dream: What went wrong with the Dream?
Week 4 Reading: Introductions, (587-618); Journal #4. Thoreau (792-809);
Day 1 Discussion: Civil Disobedience, Mexican-American War
Week 4 Reading: “The Tenth of January” by Phelps
Day 2 Presentations: 9. Stowe (753+) & 10. Brownson (624+)
Discussion: The Plight of the Worker; Jacob Riis photographs
Week 5 Reading: Apess (639+); “Poetry” (1202-03); Sigourney (1203+); Journal #5
Day 1 Presentations: 11. Child, “Willie Wharton” & 12. Child, “The Church in the Wilderness”
Discussion: Native American Removal; video clips
Week 5 Review Day for Exam 1 and Midterm Evaluations
Day 2 Please bring 1-2 potential exam questions and suggested topics for review.

Week 6 Exam 1 Bring some notebook paper.


Day 1
Week 6 Reading: Emerson (653-655, 683-701); Fuller (725-733); Hawthorne (966-968, 973-
Day 2 987)
Discussion: American Transcendentalism, Utopian Societies
Checking on Final Project Status
Week 7 Reading: Declaration of Sentiments (629+); Truth (638); Oakes Smith (intro on
Day 1 1212, and 632-638); Quiz #3
Presentations: 13. Fern (1071+) & 14. Mott, “Discourse on Woman”
Discussion: Quaker Women Reformers; Images of Women's Movement
Week 7 Reading: Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (763-791); Child, “The
Day 2 Quadroons” (http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/abfilmcat.html ); Journal #6
Presentations: 15. Hayden (v. 2, p. 1113+) & 16. Hughes (v. 2, 761+)
Discussion: Slave Narratives, Quakers
Week 8 Movie in class: The Abolitionists
Days 1 & 2 https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/abolitionists/
Journal 7 due after watching entire film
Week 9 Reading: Douglass' Narrative (857-922); Quiz #4
Day 1 Presentations:
Discussion: Slave Narratives (cont.),The Underground Railroad
Week 9 Reading: Harper (1230-33); Whittier (1220-24); Journal #8
Day 2 Presentations: 18. Greenfield, “Harriet Tubman” and 19. Child, “Slavery’s Pleasant
Homes”
Discussion: Power of Poetry; Images of Uncle Tom & Topsy
Week 10 Reading: Aiken's Uncle Tom's Cabin (play), Journal #9
Day 1 Presentation: 20 Hentz, The Planter's Northern Bride
Discussion: Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel and preface
Week 10 Reader’s Theater of Aiken’s Uncle Tom's Cabin (play), Journal #10
Day 2 The Afterlives of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/sitemap.html
The Dream Destroyed: The American Civil War
Week 11 Reading: American Contexts (1354-56); Brown (1356-58); Davis (1359-62); Civil
Day 1 War Songs (1363-1366); Douglass (1366-1369); Melville (1369-1371); Lincoln
(1372-75); Garnet (1375-78); Chesnut (1379-81); Journal #11
Discussion: Draft Riots, Union
Week 11 Reading: Louisa May Alcott’s “Hospital Sketches” (chapters 1, 2, & 3)
Day 2 https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/alcott/sketches/sketches.html
Quiz #5
Week 12 Reading: Louisa May Alcott’s “Hospital Sketches” (chapters 4,5, & 6)
Day 1 https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/alcott/sketches/sketches.html
Journal #12
Excerpts from Mercy Street http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/home/
Week 12 Reading: Bryant (1382-83); Piatt (1383-85); Timrod (1385-1387); Harper (1387-
Day 2 1389); Whitman (1390-1391)
Quiz #6 (Bonus/makeup)
Discussion: Reconstruction and Assassination of Lincoln
Week 13 Course Wrap-up & Prep for Exam 2; Course evaluations
Final project due
Exam Day Exam 2—Part 1. Multiple Choice and Short Answer; bring notebook paper for the
essays.