American Literature II—English 3369 (rev for fall 2012)
Dr. Jonathan Alexander Please use my BCC e-mail address
Phone: 609-894-9311 x1123
Online Syllabus:

A. TEXT: Custom Text ISBN# 0-390-150231

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 trends.

C. LEARNING OBJECTIVES ~ At the end of LIT 209, you should be able to:

  1. Trace the development of the American perspective through the content, style, and genres of American writings.
  2. Define the major elements of Puritanism, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Unitarianism, and transcendentalism and explain how these philosophies affected early American literature.
  3. Analyze the social, political, and religious ideas influencing these writings.
  4. Explain the evolution of American literature as it is revealed from the various perspectives of major literary figures.
  5. List the major political, social, and religious concerns of Puritan America, Colonial America, and pre-Civil War America.
  6. Respond critically and personally to the topics found in early American literature, especially those concerning American identity, freedom, and voice.
  7. Competently 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.


Attendance: If the student is to profit from any course, he or she must attend class on a consistent basis.

Students 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 missed assignments.

Entering class late or leaving class early (without prior notification) is considered disrespectful and will not be tolerated.

Academic Etiquette: Students will respect themselves, their peers and their instructors by considering the following:

Cell 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.

Although 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.


If 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.

If 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.

Students 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.

Students 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.

Class Assignments:

All work written and submitted should utilize standard rules of grammar, sentence organization, paragraph organization, and diction.

All 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.

All 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.

If 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).

E. ASSIGNMENTS: Visit the grading rubric ( to see how writing is evaluated.

  • Literary Response Journal (22) (To be completed prior to the assigned class meeting): Students will be expected to respond in writing to 23 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 (30): 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 (10): 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 (20): 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)
  • Participation (18): 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.

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.


Grades will be based on the following equivalents:

Points Earned

Final Grade




A- (note the lower average needed)








C+ (note the higher average needed)








Date: Tuesday, Aug 28
Course Introduction
Assignment and Presentation Procedures

Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”
►Journal Assignment: “The Author to Her Book” What seems to bother the speaker more: the fact that her work was taken without her approval, or the fact that she thinks it is raw, unrevised, and flawed? How do you explain that the author’s 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 the speaker’s meager or humble style prove a disadvantage? How do you interpret the author’s claim of being “poor”?

Anne Bradstreet, “A Letter to her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment”
►Journal Assignment: 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’ separation?


Date: Thursday, Aug 30

Anne Bradstreet, from “Meditations, Divine and Moral”

►Journal Assignment: Select three of the meditations and explain how each fits into some aspect of your life (academically, spiritually, or socially).



Date: Tuesday, September 4 (no class; e-mail responses by Monday, 9-3)

Cotton Mather, from The Wonders of the Invisible World
►Journal 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?

Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
►Journal 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?




Date: Thursday, September 6

►Journal Assignment: Write and deliver a sermon in the vein of Edwards but applying a proverb by Benjamin Franklin (see end of syllabus).


Date: Tuesday, September 11 (no class; e-mail responses by Monday, 9-10)

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 their company?

St. Jean de Crevecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer
►Journal Assignment: What is the speaker’s attitude toward the natives? How does he illustrate his opinion of the difference between where the colonists came from and the new land they have inhabited?

Thomas Paine, from The Age of Reason
►Journal 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.



Date: Thursday, September 13

Oloudah Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Oloudah Equiano
►Journal 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 England”
►Journal 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”
►Journal Assignment: What elements of description would you say are the most complementary or reverent of the Indians?

Tecumseh, “Speech to the Osages” (The White Men Are Not Friends to the Indians)
►Journal 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”?


Date: Tuesday, September 18 (no class; e-mail responses by Monday, 9-17)

Edward Taylor, “A Fig for Thee Oh! Death”
►Journal 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 originate?

Henry David Thoreau, from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
►Journal 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 “transcendental”?



Date: Thursday, September 20

William Cullen Bryant, “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood”
►Journal Assignment: How does the poet describe the national landscape as a symbiotic (shared) relationship among all its inhabitants?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Apology”
►Journal 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
►Journal 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?



Date: Tuesday, September 25 (no class; e-mail responses by Monday, 9-24)

Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener
►Journal 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?


Date: Thursday, September 27


Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark

Date: Tuesday, October 2, (no class; e-mail responses by Monday, 10-1)

Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven
►Journal 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?

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark
►Journal 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?


Date: Thursday, October 4

Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself” Stanzas 1-17

►Journal 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).



Date: Tuesday, October 9 (no class)



Date: Thursday, October 11

Emily Dickinson, #67, 258, 280, 328, 435, 478, 569, 636, 701, 712, 823, 1129, 1263, 1540, 1732

►Journal Assignment: For the poem you are assigned, explicate the poem and prepare a brief summary (interpreting any metaphors, identifying themes, and proposing the passage’s morals or lessons).


The Apology
Ralph Waldo Emerson



THINK me not unkind and rude

  That I walk alone in grove and glen;

I go to the god of the wood

  To fetch his word to men.


Tax not my sloth that I

  Fold my arms beside the brook;

Each cloud that floated in the sky

  Writes a letter in my book.


Chide me not, laborious band,

  For the idle flowers I brought;

Every aster in my hand

  Goes home loaded with a thought.


There was never mystery

  But ‘tis figured in the flowers;

Was never secret history

  But birds tell it in the bowers.


One harvest from thy field

  Homeward brought the oxen strong;

A second crop thine acres yield,

  Which I gather in a song.





Emily Dickinson




Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed.

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need.


Not one of all the purple Host

Who took the Flag today

Can tell the definition

So clear of Victory


As he defeated—dying—

On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumph

Burst agonized and clear! 






There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons—

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes—


Heavenly Hurt, it gives us—

We can find no scar,

But internal difference,

Where the Meanings, are—


None may teach it—Any—

‘Tis the Seal Despair—

An imperial affliction

Sent us of the Air—


When it comes, the Landscape listens—

Shadows—hold their breath—

When it goes, ‘tis like the Distance

On the look of Death—



I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading—treading—till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through—

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum—
Kept beating—beating—till I thought
My mind was going numb—

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space—began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here—

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down—
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing—then—



A Bird came down the Walk—

He did not know I saw—

He bit an angle-worm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw,


And then he drank a Dew

From a convenient Grass,

And then hopped sidewise to the Wall

To let a Beetle pass—


He glanced with rapid eyes

That hurried all around—

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—

He stirred his velvet head


Like one in danger, Cautious,

I offered him a Crumb,

And he unrolled his feathers

And rowed him softer home—


Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam—

Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,

Leap, plashless as they swim.




Much Madness is divinest Sense—

To a discerning Eye—

Much Sense—the starkest Madness—

‘Tis the Majority

In this, as All, prevail—

Assent—and you are sane—

Demur—you’re straightway dangerous—

And handled with a Chain—






I had no time to Hate—


The Grave would hinder Me—

And Life was not so

Ample I

Could finish—Enmity—


Nor had I time to Love—

But since

Some Industry must be—

The little Toil of Love—

I thought

Be large enough for Me—






I reckon—when I count it all—

First—Poets—Then the Sun—

Then Summer—Then the Heaven of God—

And then—the List is done—


But, looking back—the First so seems

To Comprehend the Whole—

The Others look a needless Show—

So I write—Poets—All—


Their Summer—lasts a Solid Year—

They can afford a Sun

The East—would deem extravagant—

And if the Further Heaven—


Be Beautiful as they prepare

For Those who worship Them—

It is too difficult a Grace—

To justify the Dream—


The Way I read a Letter’s—this—

‘Tis first—I lock the Door—

And push it with my fingers—next—

For transport it be sure—


And then I go the furthest off

To counteract a knock—

Then draw my little Letter forth

And slowly pick the lock—


Then—glancing narrow, at the Wall—

And narrow at the floor

For firm Conviction of a Mouse

Not exorcised before—


Peruse how infinite I am

To no one that You—know—

And sigh for lack of Heaven—but not

The Heaven God bestow—






A Thought went up my mind today—

That I have had before—

But did not finish—some way back—

I could not fix the Year—


Nor where it went—nor why it came

The second time to me—

Nor definitely, what it was—

Have I the Art to say—


But somewhere—in my Soul—I know—

I’ve met the Thing before—

It just reminded me—’twas all—

And came my way no more—




Because I could not stop for Death—

He kindly stopped for me—

The Carriage held but just Ourselves—

And Immortality.


We slowly drove—He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility—


We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess—in the Ring—

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—

We passed the Setting Sun—


Or rather—He passed Us—

The Dews drew quivering and chill—

For only Gossamer, my Gown—

My Tippet—only Tulle—


We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground—

The Roof was scarcely visible—

The Cornice—in the Ground—


Since then—’tis Centuries—and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity—





Not that We did, shall be the test

When Act and Will are done

But what Our Lord infers We would

Had We diviner been—





Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise


As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind—



There 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



As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away—

Too imperceptible at last

To seem like Perfidy—

A Quietness distilled

As Twilight long begun,

Or Nature spending with herself

Sequestered Afternoon—

The Dusk drew earlier in—

The Morning foreign shone—

A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,

As Guest, that would be gone—

And thus, without a Wing

Or service of a Keel

Our Summer made her light escape

Into the Beautiful.


My life closed twice before its close—

It yet remains to see

If Immortality unveil

A third event to me


So huge, so hopeless to conceive

As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,

And all we need of hell.


Delivery of a Puritan Sermon

The 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 Angry God.”)

Traditional Structure of a Puritan Sermon

Most 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.

I. 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.)

a. Grammatical Reading

- Restatement or paraphrase of the epigraph in easily accessible terms

b. Logical Meaning

- Explanation of the epigraph’s Biblical context and its meaning within that context

c. Figurative Meaning

- Précis of the epigraph’s theological and real-world implications

[For our purpose, the “Logical” and “Figurative” Meanings (a and b) can be incorporated into one statement or passage.]

II. Doctrine

a. Breaking Down the Topic

- Division of the sermon’s message into clear subsets

b. Demonstration of Scriptural Evidence

- Reference of relevant scriptural passages that support the meaning that the preacher has drawn from the epigraph

[For our purpose, the “scriptural passages” can instead be life-like experiences familiar to the audience.]

III. Reasons

a. Establishing the Validity of the Doctrine

- Coherent explanation of why the doctrine is rational and true

b. 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.

[No changes.]

IV. Application

a. Personal Life

- Statement of how the doctrine applies to one’s own personal, spiritual, and family lives (elaborating on 2b above)

b. Community and World

- Statement of how the doctrine applies to the immediate community, as well as the greater world

V. Epilogue

a. Emphasis of Arguments

- Persuasive and bolder restatement of the main points of the argument

b. Call to Action

- Stimulation of the congregation to meaningful action and continued awareness of this issue

c. Emotional Appeal

- Final attempt to convince congregation of the unassailable truth of the message/doctrine

Options for sermons (from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac)

1.      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.

2.      A penny saved is a penny earned.

3.      All cats are gray in the dark.

4.      An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

5.      At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.

6.      Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a big ship.

7.      But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

8.      Creditors have better memories than debtors.

9.      Diligence is the Mother of good luck.

10.  Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

11.  Energy and persistence conquer all things.

12.  Fish and visitors smell in three days.

13.  Genius without education is like silver in the mine.

14.  God helps them that help themselves.

15.  Haste makes waste.

16.  Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.

17.  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 face.

18.  Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade.

19.  If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty.

20.  If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.

21.  Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half-shut afterwards.

22.  Most fools think they are only ignorant.

23.  Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.

24.  One good husband is worth two good wives; for the scarcer things are, the more they`re valued.

25.  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.

26.  They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

27.  Think of these things, whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.

28.  Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.

29.  To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girl friends.

30.  Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.


How to Analyze a Novel or Play

I.  Characters
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 (flat)?
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?

II.  Plot
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 plot?
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?

III.  Setting
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 and actions?

IV.  Theme
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?

V.  Style
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 speakers?
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 better?

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, fantastic?

The First American Literature: Native Americans

  • Communicated orally
  • Myths and legends
  • Focus on nature; creation stories


 ENLIGHTENMENT (1607-1800) (2 phases: Pilgrims/religion & Patriots/politics) 

The Age of Faith (1607-1750) 


I.  Historical Context

      A. Puritans and Pilgrims

            1. separated from the Anglican church of England

            2. religion dominated their lives and writings

      B. Work ethic - belief in hard work and simple, no-frills living

II. Genre/Style

      A. sermons, diaries, personal narratives, slave narratives

      B. instructive

      C. plain style

III. Major writers

      A. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

            1. first published American poet

      B. Edward Taylor (1645-1729)

            1. Minister; considered the finest Puritan poet

      C. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

            1. Minister

            2. View of God as punitive and distant; view of man as basically evil

      D. John Smith (1580-1631)

            1. General History of Virginia

            2. Pocahontas legend

            3. Adventurer; writer; difficult to get along with


The Age of Reason (1750-1800) 

I. Historical context

      A. American Revolution; growth of patriotism

      B. Development of American character/democracy

      C. Use of reason as opposed to faith alone

II. Genre/Style

      A. political pamphlets, essays, travel writing, speeches, documents

      B. instructive in values; highly ornate writing style

III. Major writers

      A. Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams)

            1. In letters, Abigail Adams campaigned for women’s rights

            2. Provided a glimpse of the Revolutionary period

      B. Ben Franklin

            1. Autobiography & Poor Richard’s Almanack

            2. Symbol of success gained by hard work and common sense

      C. Thomas Jefferson

            1. Declaration of Independence

            2. Considered the finest writer of the era

       D. Thomas Paine

            1.  Pamphleteer

            2. "The American Crisis" helped propel us into war

            3. Remains a model of effective propaganda


ROMANTICISM (1800-1855) 

I. Historical context

      A. Expansion of book publishing, magazines, newspapers

      B. Industrial Revolution

      C. Abolitionist movement, emphasis on independence and individual rights


II. Genre/Style

      A. Short stories, novels, poetry,

      B.  Imagination over reason; intuition over fact

      C. Focused on the fantastic of human experience

      D. Writing that can be interpreted 2 ways: surface and in depth

      E. Focus on inner feelings

      F. Gothic literature (sub-genre of Romanticism)

            1. Use of the supernatural

            2. Characters with both evil and good characteristics

            3. Dark landscapes; depressed characters


III. Major writers

      A. Washington Irving (1789-1851)

            1. first famous American writer; called "father of American Lit"

            2. wrote short stories, travel books, satires

            3. Legend of Sleepy Hollow: terrified generations of children

      B. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

            1. wrote about sin and guilt

            2. consequences of pride, selfishness, etc.

      C.  Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)

            1. lousy childhood; substance abuse problems; reviled in his day

            2. created the modern short story and detective story

3. Attacked 2 long-standing conventions: a poem must be long and must teach a lesson

      D. Herman Melville (1819-1891)

1. ranked as one of America’s top novelists, but recognized by few in his own time

2. Moby Dick considered America’s greatest prose epic 
The Transcendentalists (1840-1855): stressed individualism, intuition, nature, self-reliance

      1. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): his writings helped establish the philosophy of individualism, an idea deeply embedded in American culture

      2. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): resisted materialism; chose simplicity, individualism


New Poetic Forms

      1. Walt Whitman (1819-1892): rejected conventional themes, forms, subjects (used long lines to capture the rhythm of natural speech, free verse, everyday vocabulary)

      2. 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


LIT 209 Day One Exercise     NAME_______________________________________ Score _______ /20


Match the author with his or her work:

____1. Jonathan Edwards

A. The Declaration of Independence

____2. Louisa May Alcott

B. Moby Dick

____3. Henry David Thoreau

C. “The Author to Her Book”

____4. Benjamin Franklin

D. “Self-Reliance”

____5. Francis Scott Key

E. “The Pit and the Pendulum”

____6. Abraham Lincoln

F. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

____7. Cotton Mather

G. “The Star-Spangled Banner”

____8. Thomas Paine

H. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

____9. Anne Bradstreet

I. The Deerslayer

____10. Herman Melville

J. Walden

____11. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

K. “The Gettysburg Address”

____12. James Fenimore Cooper

L. “Wonders of the Invisible World”

____13. Thomas Jefferson

M. Little Women

____14. Harriet Beecher Stowe

N. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

____15. Washington Irving

O. Poor Richard’s Almanack

____16. Alexander Hamilton

P. The Scarlet Letter

____17. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Q. “Common Sense”

____18. Samuel Clemens

R. “The Federalist Papers”

____19. Edgar Allen Poe

S. “Rip Van Winkle”

____20. Nathaniel Hawthorne

T. “The Song of Hiawatha”