American Literature I ~ LIT 209—(Revised for fall 2012)
Dr. Jonathan Alexander
Office, Academic 317
609-894-9311 or 856-222-9311 (x1123)
Online syllabus: http://staff.bcc.edu/faculty_websites/jalexand/209syl—3hour.htm
A. TEXT: Custom Text (LIT
B. COURSE OVERVIEW: American Literature I is a survey course which reviews the
development of American thought and ideals as seen in American literature from
the colonial/Puritan period through the period of the Civil War and
Reconstruction. The course will assign primary emphasis to the major literary
trends found in early America
and the major literary figures who represent those
C. LEARNING OBJECTIVES ~ At the end of LIT 209, you should be able to:
the development of the American perspective through the content, style,
and genres of American writings.
the major elements of Puritanism, the Enlightenment, Romanticism,
Unitarianism, and transcendentalism and explain how these philosophies
affected early American literature.
the social, political, and religious ideas influencing these writings.
the evolution of American literature as it is revealed from the various
perspectives of major literary figures.
the major political, social, and religious concerns of Puritan America,
Colonial America, and pre-Civil War America.
critically and personally to the topics found in early American
literature, especially those concerning American identity, freedom, and
compose analytical essays which discuss the literary trends of American
literature, each of which will possess a clear thesis statement, a
coherent pattern of supporting paragraphs, adequate support/examples from
the text to support the thesis, and a concluding paragraph. A minimum of
errors in mechanics, grammar, and usage should appear in the essays.
D. COURSE EXPECTATIONS
Attendance: If the student is to profit from any course, he or
she must attend class on a consistent basis.
must attend all classes for the full duration of each session. Should you need to miss a class for observance of
religious holidays, jury duty, military duty, bereavement, or illness, you
must notify the instructor by e-mail prior to or within 24 hours after the
class. Without such communication, students forfeit the right to make up
missed work and will receive a zero for missed assignments. If such
communication is made, students will be permitted to make up missed work at the
beginning of the following class meeting. It is, therefore, the student’s
responsibility to read the syllabus and be prepared for current as well as
class late or leaving class early
(without prior notification) is considered disrespectful and will not be
Academic Etiquette: Students will respect themselves, their peers and
their instructors by considering the following:
phones must be kept on silent. No
calls are to be made or received during class. If you are expecting an
important call during the class meeting time, notify me prior to class and
quietly excuse yourself if the call is received. No other use of phones in
class will be tolerated.
a break is scheduled into each class, students who wish to use the restrooms
may do so by quietly excusing themselves. If a student believes he or she will
require an absence of more than a few minutes, it is his responsibility to
notify me accordingly.
you leave a message on my office voice-mail (x1123), please remember to
speak clearly and provide your name, course information, and phone number if
you request a return call.
you contact me via e-mail, it is expected that you use the BCC “Mymail” account provided to you by the College. Messages
sent through any other email account may not be received or responded to.
who send me e-mail and do not receive a reply of any kind within 48
hours should assume it was never received. Such e-mails should be resent. If
you send an email, it is your responsibility to check your own email to determine
if my reply has been received. If your message doesn’t present itself as
urgent, I may reply quickly and briefly and ask to get back to you before long.
who send e-mails containing attachments may save these documents as one of the following types: DOC, DOCX,
TXT, or RTF. Please do not send any ODT, WPS or MAC “Pages” files. You may also
choose to copy and paste the text of your assignment into the e-mail message
itself, and always send a copy back to yourself (or another email account) as a
receipt to verify if the transmission fails to reach me.
work written and submitted should utilize standard rules of grammar, sentence
organization, paragraph organization, and diction.
formal papers are to be typed, titled, double
spaced, carefully proofread, and must include a cover page. Papers will
not be accepted unless they are stapled prior to arriving to class. Asking
me to borrow a stapler will not ingratiate you.
assignments are due on the date specified on the syllabus. Assignments which
are not submitted during the class session they are due will be penalized. If
you happen to be absent for a particular class session and you wait to submit a
paper until the next class meeting, it will lose 15% for each day it is late.
NOTE: A “day” is a calendar day, not a class meeting. A paper which is received
by email within two hours of the end of the assigned class session will be
considered submitted on time (without a penalty for lateness). A paper which
is received after two hours, but before 10pm on the assigned day, will incur a
late penalty of 5%. All other papers received after 10pm on the assigned day
will incur a 15% penalty per calendar day.
a student communicates an absence and presents reasonable justification, this
absence will not be counted against the student’s course grade; however, such
an absence does not allow for more time to complete assignments. Since
students are provided with all assignments and deadlines on the first day of
the semester, excuses such as “crashed computers,” “lost data,” “misplaced
flash drives,” or “empty printer ink cartridges” will not be accepted. There is
no excuse for not saving all documents twice (hard drive and floppy/flash).
Make use of the College’s computer labs before the assignment is due.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Be
aware that plagiarism includes (but is not limited to) copying someone else’s
words without crediting the source; paraphrasing someone else’s words without
crediting the source; using someone else’s ideas without crediting the source
(even if rephrased in your own words); using facts not universally known which
are obtained from a source without crediting the source; asking someone else to
write your paper, either in whole or in part; or obtaining a paper or portion
thereof by any means and submitting it as an original document. The penalty
for plagiarism is failure of the assignment and potentially failure of the
course (at the instructor’s discretion), and it may result in suspension or
expulsion from the College (at the discretion of the Student Affairs
Committee). Please refer to the BCC Student Handbook for additional
information regarding College regulations and the handling of plagiarism.
E. ASSIGNMENTS: Visit the grading rubric (http://staff.bcc.edu/faculty_websites/jalexand/rubric.htm) to see how writing is evaluated.
Response Journal (To be completed prior to the assigned class
meeting): In lieu of daily quizzes, students will be expected to respond
in writing to 22 scheduled “journal assignments” (listed below each
assigned reading on the syllabus). Write a complete response for
the day’s question(s) and bring the response to class. The minimum length
for each “Journal Assignment” is 100 words (typed or written). Students
can expect to share their responses randomly in class (according to an
assigned code) and have them checked periodically.
- Midterm Exam: This
exam will be comprised mostly of True/False and multiple choice questions.
Students are encouraged to read all marginal notes in the text explaining
allusions, definitions or interpretations as these may appear on the exam.
As well, it is recommended that students define any unfamiliar words found
within the readings and be familiar with other historical, social,
political or biographical information as presented. [Note: Students will
be permitted to use a certain amount of material during the exam (as in a
3X5 note card) to be determined.]
- Four-minute Secular Sermon:
Using a template provided in class, students will construct and deliver a
secular (non-religious-based) sermon based on different quotes from
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack.
[Assignment due date to be determined.]
- 1500-word Research Essay:
Selecting a work from the list below, students will read one novel and
construct a scholarly research essay using at least three credible
secondary sources (handout at end of syllabus). This analysis will be
typed, titled, and double-spaced. (OPTIONS: James Fenimore
Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of
Seven Gables; Lydia Marie Child, Hobomok;
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Frederick Douglass, Narrative
of the Life of Frederic Douglass, An American Slave; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents
in the Life of a Slave Girl; Herman Melville, Moby Dick)
- Group Presentation:
Near the end of the semester, students will collaborate on visual
presentations covering specific literary time periods to be determined.
These presentations must incorporate adequate research (both primary and
secondary) and visual materials (including handouts and PPT
presentations). Topics include American History, American Literature,
World History, World Literature, and Fun Facts.
- Final Exam: Similar to
the midterm, this exam will be comprised mostly of True/False and multiple
choice questions. There will be
18 multiple-choice questions, 6 each from Poe, Hawthorne and Melville.
You will then be asked to fill in the missing word from each Dickinson poem
(word bank provided). Finally, there will be 12 short questions
relating to information from the literary history handout in the
syllabus. There are a total of 45 questions, with the exam being
worth 40 points. These 5 extra-credit questions (and the removal of
Whitman from the exam) are being provided in lieu of an index card.
NO NOTE CARDS ARE PERMITTED DURING THE FINAL EXAM.
- Participation: I have
great respect for students who do what they can to succeed and take their
education seriously. If you make an effort to communicate and be
respectful with me, I can be reasonably flexible about most situations;
however, I cannot breech the integrity of the class by allowing some
students leeway with course expectations, and I have little compassion for
students who don’t have respect for themselves. Please take responsibility
for your work and the commitment you have made to your education. I expect
fulfillment of the requirements of all assignments, consistent attendance,
appropriate conduct toward classmates, and an overall positive
contribution to the class.
F. MAKE-UP EXAM POLICY: Because all assignment deadlines and scheduled exam
dates are provided at the beginning of the semester, little latitude is given
to those students who are not considerate of themselves or respectful of course
expectations. The schedule of assignments and activities is a contract and,
therefore, not open to negotiation. In the event that you must be absent the
day an assignment is due (though it is strongly discouraged if preventable),
utilize a form of electronic submission to turn in journal entries or other
assignments the day they are due.
G. GRADING POLICY: All assignments have a specific point value. There are
200 total points worth of assignments and examinations.
88.5 - 100
87.5 - 88
79.5 - 87
77.5 - 79
74.5 - 77
69.5 - 74
0 - 69
H. LIST OF ASSIGNMENTS:
Four-minute Secular Sermon
Group Presentation (Literary History)
1500-word Research Essay (Options provided)
SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS:
All readings and journal responses
must be completed before the date scheduled.
SESSION 1: 9-10
Discussion of syllabus and general course expectations
Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book” ( )
“The Author to Her Book” What seems to bother the speaker more: that her work
was taken without her approval, or that she thinks it’s raw, unrevised, and
flawed? How do you explain her claims that the work’s “visage was so irksome”?
How are physical features used as metaphors to suggest things like unevenness,
“blemish,” and unseemliness? How does her humble style prove a disadvantage?
How do you interpret her claim of being “poor”?
Anne Bradstreet, “A Letter to her Husband, Absent Upon Public
Employment” ( )
How does the speaker illustrate the fact that, despite their physical
separation, she feels connected to him in spirit? How does the speaker utilize
various metaphoric elements to create images of her feelings of loss and
separation (consider body, earth, weather, time, seasons)? What reference is
made to the speaker’s children, and how does this influence their parents’
SESSION 2: 9-17
Anne Bradstreet, from “Meditations, Divine and Moral” ( )
Select three of the meditations and explain how each fits into some aspect of
your life (academically, spiritually, or socially).
Thomas Morton, from The First Book
Containing the Original of the Natives, Their Manners, and Customs…. ( )
►Journal Assignment: Describe the author’s attitudes toward the natives.
What details of his narrative illustrate how he seems to feel about their ways
of life? Explain what he means by “such is their humanity.” Explain what he
means by claiming that the natives “are no niggards of their victuals.” How
does this phrase fit into the description of their relationship with others in
Taylor, “A Fig for Thee Oh!
Assignment: Read John Donne’s “Death, be not Proud”
and identify three passages from Taylor’s poem which echo Donne’s sonnet. What
are the most striking differences between Donne and Taylor? Where does Taylor
express boldness, even cockiness? From where does Taylor’s brashness seem to
St. Jean de Crevecoeur, from Letters
from an American Farmer ( )
Assignment: What is the speaker’s attitude toward the natives and people of color?
How does he illustrate his opinion of the difference between where the
colonists came from and the new land they have inhabited?
in the Hands of an Angry God ( )
Assignment: How does Edwards argue the fact that, even though the Israelites
were indeed condemned, they were not yet fallen to destruction? How does he use
this allusion to appeal to the people hearing this sermon?
Wonders of the Invisible World ( )
Assignment: Identify three claims brought against Bridget Bishop which might
have been explained through other (more rational) means. In what moments of
Mather’s own proposal does he suggest that circumstances or suspicion alone
might not be enough to prove fault? VIDEO: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
Thomas Paine, from The
Age of Reason ( )
Assignment: What three details do you believe are Paine’s greatest arguments
for why the current state of religion is in need of serious re-consideration.
Oloudah Equiano, from The
Interesting Narrative of the Life of Oloudah Equiano
Assignment: What three details from Equiano’s
narrative give you the most vivid sense of life as a West African slave?
Phillis Wheatley, “To the University of Cambridge, in New
Assignment: How does the poet use her difficult past as an emblem for survival
and triumph, and how does this become a warning of sorts to the young students
of the new land?
Philip Freneau, “The Indian Burying Ground”
Assignment: What elements of description would you say are the most
complementary or reverent of the Indians?
White Men Are Not Friends to the Indians ( )
Assignment: How does the author relate the philosophy that if “you” don’t help
“me” fight our enemy, when “I” am destroyed, that same enemy will then direct
its attention to destroying “you”?
Cullen Bryant, “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood”
Assignment: How does the poet describe the national landscape as a symbiotic
(shared) relationship among all its inhabitants?
Waldo Emerson, “The Apology”
Assignment: What makes the title of this poem ironic? Why does the speaker
focus on his solitude rather than any connection to other humans? How does the
speaker see himself as a messenger? How do you interpret the speaker’s
“[folded] arms”? Where does the speaker seem to make his most compelling
connection with his natural surroundings?
Margaret Fuller, from Woman
in the 19th Century ( )
Assignment: If you were to sum up Fuller’s attitude about marriage using three
passages from this excerpt, what would they be and how do they exemplify her
opinions? How does Fuller claim that women of luxury are responsible for the
fate of women of less fortunate means?
David Thoreau, from A
Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers ( )
Assignment: What theory of art and poetry does this passage portray? How does
nature influence one’s appreciation of art? What does it mean to be
Allen Poe, The
Assignment: What are your impressions of the narrator? What changes occur in
the narrator’s attitude towards the bird? What brings about this change? What
does the raven come to represent for the narrator? How does the narrator’s
emotional state change during the poem? How are these changes related to the
changes in his attitude toward the raven?
Allen Poe, The
of Sermons II
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The
Birthmark ( )
Assignment: Explain how the relationship between Nature and a scientist is
portrayed in the first paragraph. What is Georgiana’s
perception of her birthmark at the beginning of the story, does this perception
change, and why? How does the birthmark function as a metaphor in this story?
What does its removal signify?
the Scrivener ( )
Assignment: Analyze Bartleby’s behaviors and explain how they may allow us to
understand better the lawyer’s true self. How do you explain the narrator’s
difficulty in terminating Bartleby? Why does he hire (and tolerate) the type of
people in the office?
Delivery of Sermons III
Video, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself”
Assignment: For the numbered stanza you are assigned, explicate the poem and
prepare a brief summary (interpreting any metaphors, identifying themes, and
proposing the passage’s morals or lessons). Use this Powerpoint to guide you on the
passages to focus on.
Emily Dickinson, Poems #67, 258, 280, 328, 435
478, 569, 636, 701, 712
823, 1129, 1263, 1540, 1732
Assignment: For the poem you are assigned, explicate, summarize and identify
themes, morals or lessons.
Group Presentation 1 (1600-1640)
Presentation 2 (1640-1680)
Presentation 3 (1680-1720)
Group Presentation 4 (1720-1760)
Presentation 5 (1760-1800)
Presentation 6 (1800-1840)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
me not unkind and rude
I walk alone in grove and glen;
go to the god of the wood
To fetch his word to men.
not my sloth that I
my arms beside the brook;
cloud that floated in the sky
Writes a letter in my book.
me not, laborious band,
the idle flowers I brought;
aster in my hand
Goes home loaded with a thought.
was never mystery
‘tis figured in the flowers;
never secret history
birds tell it in the bowers.
harvest from thy field
brought the oxen strong;
second crop thine acres yield,
Which I gather in a song.
is counted sweetest
those who ne’er succeed.
comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
one of all the purple Host
took the Flag today
tell the definition
clear of Victory
whose forbidden ear
distant strains of triumph
agonized and clear!
a certain Slant of light,
oppresses, like the Heft
Hurt, it gives us—
can find no scar,
the Meanings, are—
may teach it—Any—
‘Tis the Seal Despair—
us of the Air—
it comes, the Landscape listens—
it goes, ‘tis like the Distance
the look of Death—
felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading—treading—till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through—
when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum—
Kept beating—beating—till I thought
My mind was going numb—
then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space—began to toll,
all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here—
then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down—
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing—then—
Bird came down the Walk—
did not know I saw—
bit an angle-worm in halves
ate the fellow, raw,
then he drank a Dew
a convenient Grass,
then hopped sidewise to the Wall
let a Beetle pass—
glanced with rapid eyes
hurried all around—
looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
stirred his velvet head
one in danger, Cautious,
offered him a Crumb,
he unrolled his feathers
rowed him softer home—
Oars divide the Ocean,
silver for a seam—
Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim.
Madness is divinest Sense—
a discerning Eye—
Sense—the starkest Madness—
‘Tis the Majority
this, as All, prevail—
you are sane—
handled with a Chain—
had no time to Hate—
Grave would hinder Me—
Life was not so
had I time to Love—
Industry must be—
little Toil of Love—
large enough for Me—
reckon—when I count it all—
Summer—Then the Heaven of God—
then—the List is done—
looking back—the First so seems
Comprehend the Whole—
Others look a needless Show—
Summer—lasts a Solid Year—
can afford a Sun
East—would deem extravagant—
if the Further Heaven—
Beautiful as they prepare
Those who worship Them—
is too difficult a Grace—
justify the Dream—
Way I read a Letter’s—this—
‘Tis first—I lock the Door—
push it with my fingers—next—
transport it be sure—
then I go the furthest off
counteract a knock—
draw my little Letter forth
slowly pick the lock—
narrow, at the Wall—
narrow at the floor
firm Conviction of a Mouse
how infinite I am
no one that You—know—
sigh for lack of Heaven—but not
Heaven God bestow—
Thought went up my mind today—
I have had before—
did not finish—some way back—
could not fix the Year—
where it went—nor why it came
second time to me—
definitely, what it was—
I the Art to say—
somewhere—in my Soul—I know—
met the Thing before—
just reminded me—’twas all—
came my way no more—
I could not stop for Death—
kindly stopped for me—
Carriage held but just Ourselves—
slowly drove—He knew no haste
I had put away
labor and my leisure too,
passed the School, where Children strove
Recess—in the Ring—
passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
passed the Setting Sun—
rather—He passed Us—
Dews drew quivering and chill—
only Gossamer, my Gown—
paused before a House that seemed
Swelling of the Ground—
Roof was scarcely visible—
Cornice—in the Ground—
then—’tis Centuries—and yet
shorter than the Day
first surmised the Horses’ Heads
that We did, shall be the test
Act and Will are done
what Our Lord infers We would
We diviner been—
all the Truth but tell it slant—
in Circuit lies
bright for our infirm Delight
Truth’s superb surprise
Lightning to the Children eased
Truth must dazzle gradually
every man be blind—
is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry—
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll—
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul
imperceptibly as Grief
Summer lapsed away—
imperceptible at last
seem like Perfidy—
A Quietness distilled
Twilight long begun,
Nature spending with herself
Dusk drew earlier in—
Morning foreign shone—
courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
Guest, that would be gone—
thus, without a Wing
service of a Keel
Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.
life closed twice before its close—
yet remains to see
third event to me
huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
is all we know of heaven,
all we need of hell.
of a Puritan Sermon
Puritans believed that the real power of a sermon was to be found in its words,
rather than its delivery. Since the words were thought to be divinely inspired
(in this case, inspired by Ben Franklin) it was believed that the words alone
carried enough power to affect the congregation. As the preacher was simply a
flawed agent of God’s work, his presentation of the sermon was expected to be
as unadorned as possible, so that the delivery of the sermon would not distract
listeners from the words. Preachers usually spoke their sermons in a deliberate
monotone. (Consider this effect as you read Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an
Structure of a Puritan Sermon
Puritan sermons were modeled after this structure. Examine “Sinners in the
Hands of an Angry God” for the five main sections of the sermon – epigraph,
doctrine, reasons, application, and epilogue.
Epigraph (The epigraph in Edwards’ time would have been a Biblical quotation, no
more than a few verses in length. This passage was selected by the preacher and
was intended to address a specific problem or concern in the community. For
this assignment, you will borrow not the words of the Bible but those of Ben Franklin, and you will speak to your “congregation” as if
they seem flawed to you in the way that the selected instructs.)
Restatement or paraphrase of the epigraph in easily accessible terms
Explanation of the epigraph’s Biblical context and its meaning within that
Précis of the epigraph’s theological and real-world implications
our purpose, the “Logical” and “Figurative” Meanings (a and
b) can be incorporated into one statement or passage.]
Breaking Down the Topic
Division of the sermon’s message into clear subsets
Demonstration of Scriptural Evidence
Reference of relevant scriptural passages that support the meaning that the
preacher has drawn from the epigraph
our purpose, the “scriptural passages” can instead be life-like experiences
familiar to the audience.]
Establishing the Validity of the Doctrine
Coherent explanation of why the doctrine is rational and true
Why Listeners Should Be Convinced
An extension of the above. Involves an explanation of why the listeners, specifically,
should believe in the truth of the doctrine.
Statement of how the doctrine applies to one’s own personal, spiritual, and
family lives (elaborating on 2b above)
Community and World
Statement of how the doctrine applies to the immediate community, as well as
the greater world
Emphasis of Arguments
Persuasive and bolder restatement of the main points of the argument
Call to Action
Stimulation of the congregation to meaningful action and continued awareness of
Final attempt to convince congregation of the unassailable truth of the
for sermons (from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor
A little neglect may breed mischief, ...for want of a
nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of
a horse the rider was lost.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
All cats are gray in the dark.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty,
the wit; and at forty, the judgment.
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a big ship.
But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Creditors have better memories than debtors.
Diligence is the Mother of good luck.
Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Energy and persistence conquer all things.
Fish and visitors smell in three days.
Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
God helps them that help themselves.
Haste makes waste.
Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.
He that blows the coals in quarrels that he has nothing to do with, has no right to complain if the sparks fly in his
Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade.
If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty.
If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.
Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half-shut afterwards.
Most fools think they are only ignorant.
Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.
One good husband is worth two good wives; for the scarcer things are, the more
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more
difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Think of these things, whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girl friends.
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.
How to Analyze a Novel or
1. In a sentence or two sum up the appearance and important
characteristics of each major character.
2. Which characters change as the story proceeds? Do they change for the
better or the worse?
3. Which characters are distinct individuals (round) and which types
4. Does every character have a function in the story? What are the
functions of the minor characters? Any foils? Are these minor
characters interesting in themselves?
5. How are the principal characters presented? By
the author’s description and comment? By
representation of the thoughts and actions of the characters themselves?
By observations and comments of the other characters?
6. Are the characters at once realistically consistent and sufficiently
motivated for whatever change occurs in them?
7. Toward which characters does the author show sympathy? Toward which antipathy?
1. In 250-300 words, give a synopsis of the story. Is there a well unified beginning, middle, and end?
2. If there is more than one action in the story, show which is the main
and which the subordinate plots (subplots); is anything irrelevant to the main
3. What is the nature of the conflicts? Are there complications to
the main problem? Identify the protagonist and antagonist.
4. Is our curiosity aroused? How? Are there significant dilemmas, ironies or foreshadowing?
5. Is the conclusion of the story satisfactory?
1. What is the historic time, place, and social
background of the story? How
much time does the action cover? How does the author treat time gaps?
2. Which are the most interesting, striking, or
important scenes? Refer to them specifically, describe them briefly, and
give your reasons for selecting them.
3. For a novel, how is the setting presented? With
photographic detail? Impressionistically through
a few suggestive details? Indirectly through thoughts
1. What is the moral significance of the story? Does it have universal
significance through its theme, plot, and characters? Does it stimulate
thoughts about any important problems of life? Does it supply answers by
implication or direct statement?
2. Does the story clearly reveal any overall view of the universe on the
part of the author? Is this view sentimental, romantic, cynical, etc.?
Does the author content himself with showing evil and leave the conclusions up
to the reader, or does he use devices to help form the reader’s conclusions?
1. How would you describe the author’s style? Simple
and clear-cut, complex and involved? Smooth and
grateful, abrupt and harsh? Richly suggestive and implying much,
lean and direct?
2. Does the author’s style have individuality? Could a story of
his be recognized by the style alone?
3. Is there any humor in the story? Is it quiet or broad? Is the dialogue appropriate to the
4. How frequent are dramatic situations? How are they reached, by
anticipation or surprise? How treated, by suggestion or in detail?
How rendered, by dialogue or by description?
5. Are there any different rates of movement in the narrative?
Where and why?
6. For a novel, from what point of view is it written? In
the point of view consistent? Could it have been changed for the
7. Copy some of the striking passages that you consider full of meaning
or particularly remarkable for their freshness of statement.
VI. Historical background
1. When was the story written? What relation and/or significance does
this date have to preceding, contemporary, and /or succeeding events—literary
publications and important political, economic, or social occurrences?
2. What place does the story hold in the author’s total work?
3. Are any circumstances of special interest associated with the
composition of the story? Do these circumstances in any way aid in the
better understanding of the story itself?
VII. Classification of the Story
1. On what levels can the story profitably be read? (Plot,
characters, emotional effect, theme.) Is this a story of character
with the primary interest in events? Of setting,
primary interest in environment? Of idea, primary interest in
thesis or ethical significance?
2. In what general literary tradition was the story written? Realistic, attempting to see life photographically with emphasis on
the difficulties, absurdities, animosities and ironies? Romantic,
attempting to see life idealistically with emphasis on the might-be or
ought-to-be and avoiding the unpleasant? Naturalistic,
First American Literature: Native Americans
(1607-1800) (2 phases: Pilgrims/religion & Patriots/politics)
Age of Faith (1607-1750)
Puritans and Pilgrims
separated from the Anglican church of England
religion dominated their lives and writings
Work ethic - belief in hard work and simple, no-frills living
sermons, diaries, personal narratives, slave narratives
Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)
first published American poet
Edward Taylor (1645-1729)
Minister; considered the finest Puritan poet
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
View of God as punitive and distant; view of man as basically evil
John Smith (1580-1631)
General History of Virginia
Adventurer; writer; difficult to get along with
Age of Reason (1750-1800)
American Revolution; growth of patriotism
Development of American character/democracy
Use of reason as opposed to faith alone
political pamphlets, essays, travel writing, speeches, documents
instructive in values; highly ornate writing style
Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams)
In letters, Abigail Adams campaigned for women’s rights
Provided a glimpse of the Revolutionary period
Autobiography & Poor Richard’s Almanack
Symbol of success gained by hard work and common sense
Declaration of Independence
Considered the finest writer of the era
D. Thomas Paine
"The American Crisis" helped propel us into war
Remains a model of effective propaganda
Expansion of book publishing, magazines, newspapers
Abolitionist movement, emphasis on independence and individual rights
Short stories, novels, poetry,
Imagination over reason; intuition over fact
Focused on the fantastic of human experience
Writing that can be interpreted 2 ways: surface and in depth
E. Focus on inner feelings
Gothic literature (sub-genre of Romanticism)
Use of the supernatural
Characters with both evil and good characteristics
Dark landscapes; depressed characters
Washington Irving (1789-1851)
first famous American writer; called "father of
wrote short stories, travel books, satires
Legend of Sleepy Hollow: terrified generations of children
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
about sin and guilt
of pride, selfishness, etc.
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
lousy childhood; substance abuse problems; reviled in
created the modern short story and detective story
Attacked 2 long-standing conventions: a poem must be long and must teach a
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
ranked as one of America’s top novelists, but
recognized by few in his own time
Moby Dick considered America’s greatest prose epic
The Transcendentalists (1840-1855): stressed individualism, intuition,
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): his writings helped establish the
philosophy of individualism, an idea deeply embedded in American culture
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): resisted
materialism; chose simplicity, individualism
1. Walt Whitman (1819-1892): rejected conventional themes, forms, subjects (used
long lines to capture the rhythm of natural speech, free verse, everyday
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886): her poetry broke
with convention: didn’t look right; didn’t rhyme; too bold; too radical
(concrete imagery, forceful language, unique style)
wrote 1775 poems, published only 7 in her life
209 Day One Exercise NAME_______________________________________
Score _______ /20
the author with his or her work: