Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


American Literary Consciousness

English 225B: American Literature I: to 1860

Winter 2007, MW 4:30-5:45PM, 121 Lake Huron Hall


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Phone: 331-3373
Office and Mailbox: 123 Lake Huron Hall Email: blazera@gvsu.edu
Office Hours: M 2:00-2:50PM, W 1:15-2:50PM Web: http://faculty.gvsu.edu/blazera/


Course Description


I celebrate myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

—Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" (1855)


English 225 is an introductory course for American literature from its origins to the Civil War. As a survey course, we'll engage a multitude of writers and literary movements from various time periods. For practicality's sake, we'll approach the literature according to three time tendencies: the literature leading up to the American Revolution, the initial struggle to create a national literature in the nineteenth century, and the first major American literary movement, Transcendentalism. Of course, we'll only catch a glimpse of these writers and these movements; however, through encounters with recurrent themes and issues among various authors, by the end of the course we'll attempt to build a general understanding of the motion of American literature up to 1860. Among our methods for accomplishing this formidable, but nonetheless achievable, task will be extensive reading, class discussion, in-class group work, a discussion board response, a short paper, a research paper, and one or two exams. The main goal of this course is for students to gain an overview of the American literary consciousness before the Civil War. I want you to do well in this class. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, submit assignments on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty. Note that this course's prerequisite is completion of the freshman writing requirement. This course fulfills a Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) requirement.


Course Materials



McMichael, ed. et al, Anthology of American Literature, 9th ed., Vol. I (GVSU bookstore)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


discussion board response, 5%

In two-three pages, you will respond to one of the works of literature by discussing theme and raising issues for class discussion.

peer response, 5%

Groups of 4-5 will respond to their peers' first drafts of the short paper and research paper.

short paper, 25%

In the short paper of 4-6 pages, you will thematically compare and contrast two works of literature before 1860.

research paper, 35%

In 6-8 pages and using 3-5 works of scholarly criticism, your MLA styled research paper will analyze a Transcendentalist author or text more closely and deeply than we had time to cover in class.

exam, 30%

The take-home essay exam will test your knowledge of the evolving American literary consciousness by asking you to make connections and distinctions among authors, texts, and periods.


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions. We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use email etiquette.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review both my Blackboard Basics and IT's Blackboard Help.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond four days. Therefore, missing five class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing eight classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the four days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your four days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. Section 223.01 of the Student Code states: "Any ideas or material taken from another source for either written or oral presentation must be fully acknowledged. Offering the work of someone else as one's own is plagiarism. The language or ideas taken from another may range from isolated formulas, sentences, or paragraphs to entire articles copied from books, periodicals, speeches or the writings of other students. The offering of materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment also is considered plagiarism. Any student who fails to give credit in written or oral work for the ideas or materials that have been taken from another is guilty of plagiarism." As a general rule, I fail plagiarized assignments, and so plagiarists usually fail the course as well.

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness.


The deadline for withdrawing from a class is Friday, March 2 at 5:00PM through one of the Student Assistance Centers.

Disabilities Support Center

If there is any student in this class who has special needs because of a learning, physical, or other ability, please contact the Disabilities Support Services (DSS) Program in the Advising Resources and Special Programs Unit at 331-3588.

Center for Writing

The Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors provides appointment, walk-in, and instant messenger assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.

Supplemental Writing Skills

This course is designated SWS. Completion of WRT 150 with a grade of C or better (not C-) is a prerequisite. SWS credit will not be given to a student who completes this course before completing the prerequisite. SWS courses adhere to certain guidelines. Students turn in a total of at least 3000 words of writing. Part of that total may be essay exams, but a substantial amount of it is made up of essays, reports, or research papers. The instructor works with the students on revising drafts of papers, rather than simply grading the finished piece of writing. At least four hours of class time will be devoted to writing instruction. At least one third of the final grade in the course is based on the writing assignments.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.


Week 1
M, 1-8
W, 1-10

The Literature of Early America (1-13)

Bradford, from Of Plymouth Plantation (64-87)

Winthrop, from A Model of Christian Charity (98-109)

from The Journal of John Winthrop (110-119)

from The New England Primer (127-33)

Week 2
M, 1-15

Bradstreet, poems (134-58)

In Class Activity: Anne Bradstreet: Faith and Family

W, 1-17

Taylor, poems (166-80)

Week 3
M, 1-22

Rowlandson, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (210-43)

W, 1-24

The Literature of the Eighteenth Century (299-309)

Paine, from Common Sense (467-70)

from The American Crisis (470-76)

from The Age of Reason (477-84)

Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia (485-510)

from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (511-525)

In Class Activity: Paine and Jefferson: Revolutionary Positions

Week 4
M, 1-29

Wheatley, poems (526-35)

W, 1-31

Freneau, poems (536-49)

Week 5
M, 2-5

No Class: University Closed (Snow Day)

W, 2-7

The Literature of the Early- to Mid-Nineteenth Century (654-68)

Irving, from The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (713-57)

Bryant, poems (875-87)

Paper 1 Prompt

Week 6

M, 2-12

Emerson, Nature (949-78)

"The American Scholar" (951-78)

"The Divinity School Address" (979-91)

"Self-Reliance" (992-1003)

"The Poet" (1022-36)

MLA Style

W, 2-14

Emerson, continued

Paper 1 Draft 1 Due

Week 7
M, 2-19

Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" (1102-11)

"The Minister's Black Veil" (1112-20)

W, 2-21

Hawthorne, "The Artist of the Beautiful" (1132-47)

"Rappaccini's Daughter" (1148-67)

In Class Activity: Hawthorne's Core Conflicts

Paper 1 Peer Response

Week 8
M, 2-26

Fuller, from Summer on the Lakes (1065-74)

from Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1075-85)

Child, "Charity Bowery" (1483-7)

"The Black Saxons" (1488-94)

"Slavery's Pleasant Homes" (1495-8)

"The New England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day" (1499-1500)

W, 2-28

Fern (1959-1972)

Harper, poetry (2049-54)

Paper 1 Draft 2 Due (Optional)

Week 9
M, 3-5

No Class: Spring Break

W, 3-7

No Class: Spring Break

Week 10
M, 3-12

Poe, poetry (892-905)

"The Imp of the Perverse" (online)

Paper 2 Prompt

W, 3-14

Poe, "Ligeia" (907-17)

"The Fall of the House of Usher" (918-31)

"The Tell-Tale Heart" (932-34)

"The Purloined Letter" (935-948)

Literary Research Methods

Week 11
M, 3-19

Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1368-93)

"Benito Cereno" (1394-1452)

W, 3-21
Melville, continued
Week 12
M, 3-26

Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience " (1612-30)

Walden (1631-1810; selections)

poems (1811-13)

W, 3-28

Thoreau, continued

Paper 2 List/Photocopies of Sources Due

Week 13
M, 4-2

Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1520-1580)

"Letter to His Old Master" (1581-5)

"What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" (1586-8)

W, 4-4

Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (2010-37)

Paper 2 Draft 1 Due

Week 14
M, 4-9

Whitman (selections, 2113-247)

W, 4-11

Whitman, continued

Paper 2 Peer Response

Week 15
M, 4-16

Dickinson (selections, 2248-77)

Exam Prompt

W, 4-18

Dickinson, continued

Paper 2 Draft 2 Due (Optional)

Week 16
W, 4-25

Exam Due