Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Syllabus
Selected Reading Study Questions Research Paper


American Literary Consciousness

English 311: American Literature I, Fall 2003

Section 01: MWF 8:00-8:50AM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 101

Section 75: TR 7:00-8:15PM, Bingham Humanities Bldg 101

Selected Reading

The Norton Anthology offers much more writing by most of the authors that we're going to read than we can possibly examine in a survey course. I encourage you to read all of these texts, but we'll only have time to examine a limited number of them in class. Please be prepared to discuss the following selections.


Stories of the Beginning of the World

all (19-33)

Christopher Columbus

all (34-7)

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

all (58-70)

Anne Bradstreet

"A Dialogue between Old England and New"

"To Her Father with Some Verses"

"The Flesh and the Spirt"

"A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment"

"In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet"

"In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Anne Bradstreet"

"On My Dear Grandchild Simon Bradstreet"

"In Reference to Her Children, 23 June, 1659"

"To My Dear Children"

Thomas Paine

all (706-25)

Annis Boudinot Stockton

all (699-703)

Phillis Wheatley

all (808-24)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature (1106-34)

"The American Scholar" (1135-47)

"Self-Reliance" (1160-76)

"The Poet" (1177-91)

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Young Goodman Brown" (1263-72)

"The Minister's Black Veil" (1280-8)

"The Birth-Mark" (1289-99)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

all (1476-85)

John Greenleaf Whittier

all (1485-1506)

Edgar Allan Poe

poetry (1507-24)

"The Fall of the House of Usher" (1534-46)

"The Purloined Letter" (1575-87)

"The Imp of the Perverse" (1588-92)

Herman Melville

"Bartleby, the Scrivener" (2330-54)

"Billy Budd, Sailor" (2431-86)

Henry David Thoreau

"Resistance to Civil Government" (1788-1806)

Walden, or Life in the Wood, Chapters 1-3, 5, and 18 only (1807-66, 1875-81, 1974-82)

"Life without Principle" (1788-2028)

Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (2029-97)

Walt Whitman

Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)

"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson [Whitman's 1856 Manifesto]

"From Pent-up Aching Rivers"

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"

"Song of Myself" (1881) [note: not the 1855 version]

"I Sing the Body Electric" (online)

Emily Dickinson

read all poems, but these are the ones we'll most likely discuss

67 [Success is counted sweetest]

185 ["Faith" is a fine invention]

258 [There's a certain Slant of light]

280 [I felt a Funeral, in my Brain]

324 [Some keep the Sabbath going to Church—]

341 [After great pain, a formal feeling comes—]

448 [This was a Poet—It is that]

465 [I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—]

536 [The Heart asks Pleasure—first—]

547 [I've seen a Dying Eye]

712 [Because I could not stop for Death—]

1126 [Shall I take thee, the Poet said]

Study Questions

In order to actively keep up with the reading, as well as to prepare for class discussion, answer the following study questions before class. For each question, I suggest writing a short, informal response and citing key passages in the text that support your response. I also strongly recommend that you annotate your texts. Actively keeping up with the reading in this manner will serve you well on the exams and the final paper.

Research Paper

You've explored authors and their works in study questions and class discussion. You've come to general conclusions about the nature of the period in exams. Now, you can devote an entire paper to one author, to one work. Select a work of literature (or two or three closely related essays, poems, or short stories) that we've read in class. See me if you want to pursue a text not covered. Rigorously and interpret and analyze that piece, and use 3-4 scholarly journal articles, books, or book chapters to support your interpretation (Click here to learn how to conduct literary research at U of L). Although this is a research paper, the emphasis should be on your ideas, your way of reading the text; the research is necesary but of secondary importance: do not let it overwhelm your voice. I'll be glad to discuss paper topics with you at any time.