English 320: American Literature I


Fall 2008                                                                        Dr. Sonya Lancaster

2:00-2:50 MWF                                                             Office: 2111 Wescoe (864-2515)

4019 Wescoe                                                                  Mailbox: 2108 Wescoe              

e-mail: sonyal@ku.edu                                               Office Hours: 3:00-4:00 MWF   

                                                                                                and by appointment


Course Description: This course is an introduction to American Literature from the Colonial Period to the Civil War.  We will read from the major genres of the period: stories, tales, poetry, history, letters, autobiography, travel literature, captivity and slave narratives, etc. Students will be involved in the process of syllabus formation and have a chance to both choose texts for class reading and prepare texts for class discussion.  Students should expect to do quite a bit of reading and writing in this course.  The literature of this time period presents a unique opportunity to inquire in to issues of identity, nationality, power relations, conflicts among groups of people, and other issues that concern the many people who encountered each other during this time and in this place.  Students will be expected to develop interesting questions for us to explore as we work through the literature.  Often the questions are most interesting when they reveal the complexity of a situation and cannot readily be answered.  Together we ask questions and practice critical analysis.  Students should expect to think deeply and broadly, and to discuss quite often with classmates in class.


Admission to English courses numbered 300 and above is limited to students who have completed the freshman-sophomore English requirements or their equivalents.


The Department of English reserves the right to terminate administratively the enrollment of any student who misses two consecutive class meetings during the first two weeks of the semester. Should an emergency situation cause the student to miss two consecutive class meetings, the student should contact the instructor(s) or the English Department, 864-4520, immediately. Students are expected to submit promptly requests to drop should they decide to disenroll from English classes.




Course Goals:


By the end of English 320, students should be able to do the following:


Demonstrate broad background knowledge of American literature from the Colonial period to 1865

-      Contextualize a text generically and historically/culturally

-      Inquire into individual and cultural issues explored in these literary texts

-      Engage confidently in scholarly conversations about texts



Closely engage literary texts

-      Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of a text's rhetorical situation

-      Respond to literature through different writing genres appropriate to the study of English



Required Text:

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume One A and B (5th Edition)


Recommended Text:

Lunsford, Andrea. The Everyday Writer or

Faigley, Lester.  The Brief Penguin Handbook.                       



Paper 1:                        25%                             Final Exam:       20%

Paper 2:                        25%                             Participation:     10%                            

In-Class Writings:          10%

Discussion Preparation Writings: 10%


In this course we will be using the new +/- grading scale, approved by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to describe intermediate levels of performance between a maximum of A and a minimum of F.  Intermediate grades represented by plus or minus shall be calculated as .3 units above or below the corresponding letter grade.     


Papers: Students will write two 6-9 page papers, one that is based on inquiry and one that requires close engagement with a text or texts. Students are encouraged to come up with their own paper topics within the parameters of the assignment.  Students should clear topics with me before they begin writing, and we will have conferences to discuss the inquiry paper.  The papers will be due by 5:00 pm in my office on the day that is indicated on the schedule.  Late papers will lose a letter grade for each day they are late.


In-Class Writings: On most class days, you will write something at the beginning of class to generate discussion.  These writings will help you to keep up with the reading and will take the place of a midterm exam, as will the discussion preparation writings discussed below.


Discussion Preparation Writings: About once a week in first half of the semester, we will have discussions of materials related to the readings.  These discussions are to give you practice with inquiry and will prepare you to write the first paper. To prepare for these discussions you will complete an assignment located on Blackboard and bring it with you to class on the day of discussion.


Participation:  On the days that we have discussion of the readings or materials related to them, one group member should be assigned to take notes each time, and these notes will be turned in at the end of the class.  Students will either respond to discussion questions from me or generate discussion questions themselves to answer in the groups.  The participation portion of your grade will comprise of the quality of your participation in discussion and attendance.


Final Exam: The final exam will be a take home final due on the day of the scheduled final (December 19) by 4:00 pm.  Questions for the final will be generated from discussion, and I will give you more information about it as we get closer to its date.


Attendance: Class participation and discussion are an important part of this class; therefore, attendance is essential. What we do in class is important for meeting the course's goals, and all of our class sessions will depend on your participation in some activities that will ensure that you understand and perform well on graded assignments.  Therefore, you cannot expect to do well if you do not attend class. Of course, speak to me if you have a medical or other crisis that will make you miss several classes or if your absence is for a religious holiday or University-sponsored event.  I give special consideration to attendance when determining borderline grades.


Academic Dishonesty: Stealing and passing off as your own someone else's ideas or words, or using information from another's work without crediting the source, is called "plagiarism."  Some specific examples of actions that constitute plagiarism include pasting together uncredited information or ideas from the Internet or published sources, submitting an entire paper written by someone else, submitting a paper written for another class (and thus not original work), and copying another student's work (even with the student's permission).  In order to avoid unintentional plagiarism and to represent your work honestly, you will need to be meticulous about giving credit to any and all sources, whether directly quoted (even a few words) or paraphrased.  Please see your instructor if you have any questions about documenting sources.


Because one of the goals of this course is to help you improve your writing, plagiarism hurts you as much as it does anyone.  If you plagiarize another's work, you will not be receiving the needed feedback to improve your own writing.  There will be a zero tolerance policy for any type of plagiarism in this class.   All incidents of plagiarism will be penalized, reported, and kept on file in the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the University Provost's Office.


Writing Help: For help with your writing, I strongly encourage you to contact KU's writing centers, called Writer's Roosts.  At a Writer's Roost you can talk about your writing with trained tutors or consult reference materials in a comfortable working environment.  You may ask for feedback on your papers, advice and tips on writing (for all your courses), or for guidance on special writing tasks.   Please check the website at <http://www.writing.ku.edu/students/> for current locations and hours. The Writing Center welcomes both drop-ins and appointments, and there is no charge for their services. For more information, please call 864-2399 or send an e-mail to writing@ku.edu. The website is loaded with helpful information about writing of all sorts, so even if you consider yourself a good writer, check it out!


Disabilities Statement: Students with disabilities that may interfere with completing your course work should consult with me as soon as possible to discuss accommodating your needs.  You should also contact the Office of Disability Resources in 22 Strong Hall or contact them at 785-864-2620 or consult the website at <http://www.achievement.ku.edu/disability/>.


Important Dates (to be included in the reading schedule):

            8/29                  begin Unit I: Colonial Period to 1700

            9/1                    Labor Day

            10/13                begin Unit II: Eighteenth Century

            10/17                Fall Break

            10/22                first paper due date

            11/3                  Unit III: Early Nineteenth Century: 1800-1865

            11/26-28           Thanksgiving Break

            12/8                  second paper due date

            12/10                last day of class

            12/12                Stop Day

            12/19                Final exam due 4:00 pm



Schedule of Assignments

(subject to change)

(DPA= date a Discussion Preparation Assignment is due

Assignments can be found on Blackboard)


Week 1:

August  22F       No Class – look at assignment on Blackboard and read through syllabus


Week 2:

25M     Introduction to the class; DPA 1 due

27W     distribute reading schedule; paper assignments; DPA 2 due

Unit I: Colonial to 1700         

29F       Native American Oral Literatures and Narrative (18-22) "Talk Concerning the First Beginning" (22-36), "Changing Woman and the Hero Twins" (36-48), "Raven and Marriage" (59-63), "The Bungling Host" (64-65) and "Creation of the Whites" (65-66)


Week 3:

Sept.     1M       Labor Day

            3W       Cluster: American in the European Imagination (106-12); DPA 3 due

5F        discussion groups – meet at Spencer Research Library to look at maps; DPA 4 due


Week 4:

8M       Columbus (119-31); de Vaca (139-52); Champlain (219-24)        

10W     Cluster: Cultural Encounters: A Critical Survey (132-38); Pueblo Revolt (195-207); DPA               5 due  

12F       John Smith (255-69); Handsome Lake (802-4)


Week 5:

15M     Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation (324-46)

17W     Morton New English Canaan (294- 307)

19F       discussion groups – creative responses to texts DPA 6 due


Week 6:           

22M     Rowlandson A Narrative of Captivity and Restoration (437-68)

24W     John Williams Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion (533-43); Briton Hammon "Narrative of Uncommon Sufferings" (1137-43)

26F       discussion groups – read Tompkins article on Blackboard; DPA 7 due


Week 7:

29M     Cotton Mather (507-33); Sewall (496-506)

Oct.      1W       Increase Mather (readings on Blackboard)

3F        discussion groups – pedagogy; DPA 8 due        


Week 8:

            6M       Bradstreet (394-413)

            8W       Sor Juana (186-195)

            10F       discussion groups; DPA 9 due





Week 9:

Unit II: Eighteenth Century

13M     Knight (584-602)

15W     Crevecoeur (921-59)

17F       Fall Break

Week 10:

20M     Jefferson Notes on the State of Virginia (990-1010)

22W     Franklin Autobiography, Part I (828-76); Paper 1 due date

24F       Franklin Autobiography, Parts II and III (876-90)


Week 11:

27M     Equiano Interesting Narrative (1152-1185)

29W     discussion groups; DPA 10 due

31F       Foster The Coquette  (1340-59)


Week 12:

Nov.       3M          Brockden Brown "Somnambulism" (1373-87)

Unit III: Early Nineteenth Century, 1800-1865

5W       Emerson "American Scholar" (1609-21) "Self-Reliance" (1621-38)

            7F        Thoreau "Walking" (1803-24)   


Week 13:

10M     Douglass Narrative (1879-1945)

12W     Douglass Narrative (1879-1945)

14F       Jacobs Incidents (2029-56); Sojourner Truth (2092-99); Extra Credit DPA due 


Week 14:

17M     Irving "Rip Van Winkle" (2153-65), "Sleepy Hollow" (2165-84)

19W     Hawthorne "Minister's Black Veil" (2267-75), "The Birthmark" (2276-87), "Rappaccini's Daughter" (2287-2306)

21F       Poe "Ligeia" (2459-72), "The Black Cat" (2495-2501), "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (2515-21)


Week 15:

            24M     Melville "Benito Cereno" (2669-2726)

            26W     Thanksgiving Break

28F       Thanksgiving Break


Week 16:

Dec.     1M       Stoddard "Lemorne vs. Huell" (2823-36)

3W       Whitman "Song of Myself" (2937-82)    

5F        Dickinson's selected poems


Week 17:

             8M      Paper 2 due; Dickinson's selected poems

             10W    evaluations and preparation for final exam



Final exam time: Friday, December 19, 1:30-4pm     



Mather, Increase. A Further Account of the Tryals of the New-England Witches. and Cases of Conscience Concerning Witchcraftes adn Evil Spirits Personating Men. 1693. Boston: J. Dunton. EEBO: Early English Books Online. 25 July, 2008.