Colonial & U.S. Literature to 1865        

Prof. Jared Gardner

MW 1:50 - 2:45 • Mendenhall 100 (Denney 565)

Ayendy Bonifacio’s Office Hours: M W F 3-4 (Denney 461)
 Andrew Sydlik’s Office Hours: M F 2:45-4:15 (Denney 559)

Course Description:

This course provides a broad survey of literature from 16th & 17th-century European colonization of the Americas to end of the American Civil War. We will explore how writers working in numerous genres (nonfiction, fiction, and poetry) conceived of literary writing as crucial to the political and cultural work of the nation. We also will study the crucial themes, tropes, plots, and styles that have come to shape what we today define as an “American literary tradition.”

This course fulfills a GEC requirement in Literature. As with all courses fulfilling this requirement, students in this class will evaluate significant texts in order to develop capacities for aesthetic and historical response and judgment; interpretation and evaluation; and critical listening, reading, seeing, thinking, and writing. Expected Learning Outcomes include: 1) analysis, interpretation, and critique of significant literary works and 2) through reading, discussing, and writing about literature, students will learn to appraise and evaluate the personal and social values of their own and other cultures.

More specifically, I wish for you to read many canonical and non-canonical literary texts so as to think about the significance of imaginative writing to conceptions of nation and self. We will ask what role writing plays in establishing political and social communities, what is the function of literature for citizenship, how have literary genres evolved from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and how do these different genres allow readers to make sense of the past, present, and future.


Required Books.

·      The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Edition, Vol. 1 (to 1865) [ISBN 978-0393918861]

·      Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette Norton Critical Edition [ISBN 978-0393931679]

Week 1

W 8/23


F 8/25


Christopher Columbus, “Letter to Louis de Santangel”; “Letter to Ferdinand and Isabelle” (25-28)


Week 2

M 8/28

John Underhill, from News from America (52-57); John Smith, from The General History of Virginia and A Description of New England (59-68 and 69-72); John Winthrop, from A Model of Christian Charity (76-87)

W 8/30

Anne Bradstreet, “The Prologue” (111-12), “Contemplations” (112-19), “Author to Her Book” (119), and “Here Follows Some Verses . . . ” (122-23); Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (209-20)

F 9/1


Week 3

M 9/4


W 9/6

Mary Rowlandson, from A Narrative of the Captivity (127-43)

F 9/8


Week 4

M 9/11

Rowlandson (continued); Benjamin Franklin, “The Way to Wealth” (236-242), “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America” (244-247), and from The Autobiography (248-261)

W 9/13

Franklin (261-308) (continued)

F 9/15


Week 5

M 9/18

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer (309-23); Thomas Paine, from Common Sense (324-31); Olaudah Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative (355-87)

W 9/20

Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative (continued); Phillis Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America” (403), “To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth” (403-04), “To S.M., a Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works” (409-10), and “To his Excellency General Washington” (410-11); Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia (763-65)

F 9/22


Week 6

M 9/25

Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette (4-103)

W 9/27

Foster, The Coquette (104-33)

F 9/29


Week 7

M 10/2

Philip Freneau, “The Wild Honey Suckle” (399) and “The Indian Burying Ground” (399-400); William Cullen Bryant, “The Prairies” (495-98); William Apess, “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” (499-504)

W 10/4

Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle” (470-82) ONLINE LECTURE

F 10/6


Week 8

M 10/9

Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Nature (508-511), “The American Scholar” (536-49)

W 10/11

Henry David Thoreau, from Walden, or Life in the Woods (858-882)

F 10/13


Week 9

M 10/16

Thoreau, from Walden, or Life in the Woods (901-34)

W 10/18

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven” (688-691), “Ligeia” (692-701); “The Fall of the House of Usher” (702-18); “The Philosophy of Composition” (737-45)

Th 10/19


F 10/20


Week 10

M 10/23

“Memorial of the Cherokee Council” (596-600); Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Slave’s Dream” and “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” (659-62); David Walker, from David Walker’s Appeal (766-69)

W 10/25

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life (938-71)

F 10/27


Week 11

M 10/30

Douglass, Narrative of the Life (971-1002)

W 11/1

Harriet Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (819-39)

F 11/3


Week 12

M 11/6

Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown” (619-28); “The May-Pole of Merry Mount” (629-36); “The Minister’s Black Veil” (636-45)

W 11/8

Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno” (1129-83)

F 11/10


Week 13

M 11/13

“Benito Cereno” (continued); Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron-Mills” (1221-46)

W 11/15

“Life in the Iron-Mills” (continued)

F 11/17


Week 14

M 11/20

Walt Whitman, from “Preface” to Leaves of Grass, 1855 (1009-14), from Song of Myself (sections 1 to 22, pp. 1024-40)

W 11/22


F 11/24


Week 15

M 11/27

Emily Dickinson, Poems 122, 202, 207, 269, 348, 446 and 479 (1193-1215); Letter Exchange with Susan Dickinson (1215); and Letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 15 April 1862 (1218)

W 11/29

Dickinson, Poems 339, 340, 353, 355, 591, 598, 764, and 788 (1193-1215)

F 12/1


Week 16

M 12/4

Dickinson, Poems 372, 591, 764, 1263; Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (1069-1073)

W 12/6

Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1102-28)

F 12/8


W 12/13

FINAL EXAM (2:00pm-3:45pm)


To make sure that you are keeping up with the reading, there will be 6 regular quizzes in your Friday recitations that will evaluate your comprehension of reading and lectures. No makeup quizzes will be offered, but the lowest grade will be dropped.



There will be a take-home midterm examination consisting of several short essays due on Monday, October 18. You will receive the questions on October 13th.



 A crucial component of literary study is the written communication of your analysis. As such, you will write one short (3-4 page, double-spaced) essay that will focus on one primary text from our syllabus. The paper prompt will be posted on Carmen. I welcome you to come see me and/or your teaching assistant during office hours to discuss paper ideas, mechanics, and style. You might also consult the Writing Center. See for information and appointment schedules.


Final Exam

Our cumulative final examination is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, 2-3:45 pm. (25 points)



Although the Monday and Wednesday lectures are very large, I am more than happy to answer questions and encourage your participation in class (as time allows) and on Carmen (always). Your engaged participation is expected in Friday recitation sections. Participation can include comments and questions in class or posted online to the Discussion Forum on Carmen. Students who regularly contribute (either in class or online) will receive an A in participation. Students who participate once a week will receive a B. Students who rarely contribute will receive a C and those who never contribute (but attend class) will receive a D. You should always come to class having read the assigned material and with your books. (10 points)


** All course assignments must be completed to earn credit for this course **


Attendance and Lateness Policy

Attendance at both lectures and recitation is mandatory and we do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. If you miss more than 3 classes (including lectures and recitation), your participation grade will be lowered by half a grade. More than 5 missed classes will automatically drop your cumulative final grade by a half a grade. Lecture attendance will be taken in class through Top Hat. You are required to sign up for an account (which is free). Here are detailed instructions for signing up for an account through your osu address:  


Academic honesty

The term "academic misconduct" includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed, which includes but are not limited to cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Plagiarism is the representation of another's works or ideas as one's own, and includes the unacknowledged word for word use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work and/or ideas. I am required to report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the Committee on Academic Misconduct.


Students with disabilities

Students with documented disabilities who have registered with the Office of Student Life Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs. SLDS is located in 098 Baker Hall, 113 W. 12th Ave; Tel.: 614-292-3307; VRS: 614-429-1334; Email:; Web:


Electronic media policy

Laptops, tablets and electronic readers are permitted, so long as they are being used for course-related activities (reading texts, taking notes). Please be courteous to your colleagues and me and do not browse, use social media, play games, etc. If you violate these expectations and use your electronic devices for non-class related activities, you will be marked absent for the class period. I also request that you turn off your phone ringers before class.