Professor Lucia Z. Knoles
Office: Founders 201
Phone: ext 7341 (off campus--767-7341)
Honors Major American Writers
What does it mean to be an American?
How do we define success in a
country that guarantees our freedom to the "pursuit
of happiness"? How can we believe in the value of equality
if we also believe in the value of success?
If we want to believe that each person is equally capable
of pursuing happiness, what other values or beliefs must
How do we deal with differences
in a country composed of people of different nationalities,
religions, and political opinions? Are there some characteristics
that all Americans are expected to share? How do Americans
go about the process of persuading other Americans to accept
them and their views? Are there ways of disagreeing that
allow us to maintain order, and what happens when our disagreements
What kind of national "conversation"
has allowed Americans to develop answers to these questions?
What role does literature play in that conversation; what
other voices take part in the conversation? How is the rhetoric
of literature like or unlike rhetoric in other parts of
Does literature offer any "answers"?
What issues, if any, continue to be contested in literature?
Do any answers remain consistent over time and across texts?
Do we really listen to the answers or use them in our lives?
Go to the Course Search Page to search
for resources on our our own site or in the collections of other organizations
Web Resources for Academic Projects (courtesy of the Crossroads Project
at Georgetown sponsored by the American Studies Association).
web resources properly in your academic writing (also at the Crossroads
Go to the Speakeasy
Cafe to discuss readings.
Go to the Course Bibliography to locate
some of the resources available at the D'Alzon Library.
To consult a menu of other web projects done by Dr. Knoles, see her
Monday, August 28: Introduction to the Course Questions, Goals, Methods,
and Evaluation Criteria
Wednesday, August 30: The Puritans "Shining Citie on the Hill"
"AFTER GOD HAD carried us safe to New England, and
we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood,
reared convenient places for God's worship, and led the civil government,
one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance
learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate
ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in
the dust. "--from New
England's First Fruits
Only a few decades after Puritans set up colonies in
New England, a group in Massachusetts came together to celebrate the
founding of the first college in the land, Harvard. Why did they bother
setting up a college in a time when they still needed so many other
basics of life?
The Puritans came to America with both high hopes and
dire fears. Use the readings below to develop some hypotheses about
these people. Who were they? What kind of society did they hope to construct,
and how did their discussions of that society reflect their beliefs,
values, and codes of conduct? What do the texts that survive today tell
us about how they disseminated and debated their ideas?
Winthrop: "A Model of
Christian Charity," 107-110 and all of part two;
the farewell letter
written to the Puritans who voyaged to America by the Mayflower,
written by their pastor;
Father's Resolutions" by Cotton Mather;
Henry Channing's "A
Sermon Preached at New London, December 1796, Occasioned
by the Execution of Hannah, a Mulato Girl, Aged
12 Years and 9 Months, for the Murder of Eunice
Bolles, Aged 6 Years and 6 Months."
NOTE: THERE IS NO WRITING ASSIGNMENT FOR WEDNESDAY.
Reflection questions are designed to help you
think in advance about issues that may be raised in class discussion.
What problems would you expect to encounter if you
were about to become part of a Puritan community in the new world?
What vision of society do these writers offer? What problems do they
see, and what beliefs, values, and codes of behavior do they recommend
as solutions? Who do they imagine as their audience, and what do they
do to try to persuade that audience?
On-line Resources: The
Puritan Tradition and American Memory, The
Mayflower Web Pages, "Fire
and Ice" , and The
Cotton Mather Home Page
Labor Day Weekend
Wednesday, September 6:
"What is an American?" from St. Jean de
Crevecoeur's, Letters from an American Farmer,
and Thomas Jefferson's "Query XVII. Religion"
from Notes on the State of Virginia.
In a sense, both Winthrop and Crevecoeur expect America
to serve as a "shining citie on a hill," but do they agree
or disagree about what kind of model it should provide to the world?
If these men were alive today, would they believe that American life
had fulfilled their expectations? Specifically, what in particular
do you think they would find pleasing, displeasing, or just surprising?
written in 1737 by Cleemens Studenbecker and Peder Studenbecker,
immigrants to Pennsylvania, describing life in America;
essay written by Gottleib Mittleberger on the
Misfortune of Indentured Servants in Pennsylvania in 1754.
Monday, September 11: Finding a Reasonable Voice for Revolution
"The Declaration of Independence" (To
see scans of the original drafts, visit Emory University's
U.S. Founding Documents page.)
speech of your choice by Patrick Henry.
Adams Describes Hostilities Around Boston, 1775-1776
Visit the Speakeasy
Cafe to compare thoughts about the readings.
Wednesday, September 13: Founders, Farmers and Businessmen
Franklin, excerpts from the Autobiography,
Does Franklin's vision of American have more
in common with Winthrop's or Crevecoeur's ideals?
Also, Franklin's Autobiography proved to
be particularly popular in the nineteenth century. What qualities
or ideas do you believe might have made him attractive to
Americans in an industrial and entrepreneurial age? (Here
is a hint: Franklin's name and face were often used on the
covers of magazines and newspapers published for young men
in the nineteenth century. What do you make of this
The World of
Benjamin Franklin ; Benjamin
Franklin: An Enlightened American; The
Will of Benjamin Franklin; The
Way to Wealth; Benjamin
Franklin's Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin's "Apology
for Printers." For a brief description of Franklin's life
and work and links to a few on-line texts by Franklin (including "Proposals
Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania") go University
of Pennsylvania University Archives & Records Center.
Topics for Class Discussion
Monday, September 18: The Dark Side of the Shining Citie
Selections in The Norton Anthology
from Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life
of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, 343-353;
Crevecoeur's "Letter IX. Description of Charles-Town,"
Deleted: Franklin's Franklin's
"Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America," 219.
In-Class Research Workshop:
Using online databases to find and "track"
scholarly discussions of authors or topics.
from George Washington to Henry Lee on Buying Slaves, 1787
"Philosopher as Savage" from a book entitled FORGOTTEN
FOUNDERS, Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the
American Revolution, By Bruce E. Johansen.
Wednesday, September 20: Yet Another Dark Side
Introduction to Hawthorne:
Lisete Tavares and Jessica Cullivan
Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineux,"
Deleted: "The May-Pole of Merry
Mount," 623 ff..
Before coming to class, use the online databases
(try "First Search" or "EBSCO") to see what you
can learn about the scholarly discussion over Hawthorne, and particularly
over "My Kinsman Manjor Molineux." Specifically, come to
class with at list one topic that comes up repeatedly in the scholarly
discussion of "Kinsman" and a list of at least three books
or articles that you might want to look at in order to pursue this
issue. Also be prepared to say if you would be able to find a copy
of that article or book at Assumption. If not, could you get a full-text
copy through the database? If not, where is the nearest library you
could find that resource?
To help you visualize what you are reading, the picture
below shows present-day mummers in England. Is this how you picture
Hawthorne's "mummers" in "My Kinsman, Major Molineux"?
What advice does "Kinsman" seem to offer
about how best to get ahead in America, and is this consistent with
the advice offered by any earlier authors? Think also about the role
"misrule" plays in these two stories. Does misrule have
the same purpose in the two stories? What do these two stories suggest
about whether misrule is a good or bad thing in American life?
As background for "My Kinsman, Major Molineux,"
you may find it interesting to look at Gouverneur
Morris' Letter to Thomas Penn, May 20 1774 describing class conflicts.
If you want to find out more about the "Lord of Misrule"
(who seems to appear in both "My Kinsman" and "The
Maypole of Merrymount," see THE
ORIGINS AND TRADITIONS OF MAYDAY. For a wealth of information
related to Hawthorne and his writing, see the Nathaniel
Hawthorne Web. Among the resources you can find there are links
to early reviews of Hawthorne's work, including one written by Herman
Melville. In "Hawthorne
and His Mosses," Melville wrote:
And now, my countrymen, as an excellent author,
of your own flesh and blood,--an unimitating, and perhaps, in his
way, an inimitable man--whom better can I commend to you, in the
first place, than Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is one of the new, and
far better generation of your writer. The smell of your beeches
and hemlocks is upon him; your own broad prairies are in his soul;
and if you travel away inland into his deep and noble nature, you
will hear the far roar of his Niagara. Give not over to future generations
the glad duty of acknowledging him for what he is. Take that joy
to yourself, in your own generation; and so shall he feel those
grateful impulses in him, that may possibly prompt him to the full
flower of some still greater achievement in your eyes. And by confessing
him, you thereby confess others, you brace the whole brotherhood.
For genius, all over the world, stands hand in hand, and one shock
of recognition runs the whole circle round.
Why does Melville claim Hawthorne as a truly American
author, and why does that issue matter to Melville?
In-Class Research Workshop:
We will be sharing our thoughts about Hawthorne at
the Speakeasy Cafe.
We will also be discussing some tips
for starting your research projects.
NOTE: Because of our library session on Wednesday,
September 20, we will not be discussing Emerson on Monday, September
25. You need not read this assignment until further notice.
Monday, September 25: Early Nineteenth Century
Concerns Over Conduct, Cultivation, and the American
Introduction to Emerson:
"Self-Reliance," 550-567, and "Excerpts
from William Makepiece Thayer's The Bobbin Boy."
Also look through any one
of the conduct books available at our course page on 19th
Century American Conduct Books.
Nineteenth century children's
books and magazines often offered prescriptions for good conduct.
If you are interested in learning more about this subject,
be sure to see "Nineteenth
Century American Children and What They Read."
There you will find a wonderful collection
of children's stories and pictures of magazine and book covers.
In-Class Research Workshop:
Using the web to locate primary texts you can use
in your semester projects.
Wednesday, September 27: A Different Voice in the Debate over Conduct
and the American Character
Introduction to Thoreau:
Michele Davidson and Paula Canning
Catherine Beecher's Treatise
on Domestic Economy,
Thoreau: "Economy," 868; "Where
I Lived and What I Lived For," 910; "Conclusion," 959.
In Walden Thoreau offers his own vision
of the "good life" as an alternative to more conventional
notions of success. As you read, identify the elements of life in
America that Thoreau was criticizing in his writing. Does he agree
or disagree with the notions offered by those who were writing conduct
manuals in the same period? What explains their similarities or differences?
Methods of Interpreting
Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Main Page,
The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Life and Times of HDT
- Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau at the Lyceum.
Monday October 2 and Wednesday October 4: Frederick Douglass and the
American Conversation on Slavery
Before Monday, read the selections
from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
that are on pages 970-1001 of The Norton Anthology.
Come to class on Monday prepared to discuss questions one through
three on our class workshop page entitled CONTEXTUALIZING
FREDERICK DOUGLASS. You do not need to read all of the supplementary
materials in advance, but feel free to preview those that sound most
useful and interesting.
On Wednesday, we will be discussing questions three
through six from the workshop page. You should prepare for our discussion
by thinking about the questions in advance and reading those supplementary
materials that might be most useful in helping you explore possible
Additional Resources on Douglass and on the Subject
Words and Deeds in American History--pages from Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass at the Lyceum: Autobiography as Argument
African American Pamphlets Home Page
To learn more about the book Douglass used to teach
himself how to read, see The
Influence of the Columbian Orator.
Prompted by the Actions, Prosecution, and Execution of John Brown
The E Pluribus
Unum Project Exhibit on Rhetoric and Reform. Be sure to pay particular
attention to The Debate
Over Rhetoric and Reform.
Begin reading Harriet
Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in preparation for next week's
Columbus Day Weekend
Douglass, Stowe, and Garrison:
Who had the "right" voice in the Antebellum Debate over
Wednesday, October 11
Online Resources for Stowe Project:
Perspectives in American Literature: A Research and Reference
Guide is a site that offers reliable biographical, critical,
and bibliographical information about most major American writers.
3: Early Nineteenth Century: Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896),
you can find material related to our project. You may want to
refer back to the homepage
for this site in the future when studying other authors.
Tom's Cabin and American Culture
at the University of Virginia. This is an excellent site with
an abundance of both primary and secondary resources. If you
go to the page on Abolitionism
at the UV site, you will be likely to find some interesting
and useful materials.
Here is an excellent bibliography
page from an exhibition at the University of Virginia called
in Uncle Tom's Cabin." If you're doing anything on
domesticity or the women's sphere, this should prove particularly
valuable. If you are interested in how abolitionists used the
stories of mothers and children to advance their cause, you
will find Lydia Maria Child's 1839 article, Charity
Bowery, worth reading.
If you're interested in the role of women in
moral reform movements, there is a website entitled Women
and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930 Click
on this link to see a part of that project addressing the question
"What was the appeal of moral reform to antebellum women?"
Beecher Stowe on the "Domestic Goddesses" website.
I have put together a page on the tensions
in America that resulted from the debate between "ultra"
reformers and those who wanted to go slowly. It includes some
discussion of the concerns felt even by those who stood on the
sidelines. If you're interested in reading more about this or
following the links to documents, see Ultraists
vs. Nothingarians: The 19th Century Debate over the Rhetoric
of Social Reform. If you want to analyze Stowe's novel as
a work of rhetoric, you should find it useful to read Charles
Dudley Warner's 1896 essay, "The Story of Uncle Tom's Cabin."
What was this book, and how did it happen to produce such
an effect? It is true that it struck into a time of great
irritation and agitation, but in one sense there was nothing
new in it. The facts had all been published. For twenty years
abolition tracts, pamphlets, newspapers, and books had left
little to be revealed, to those who cared to read, as to the
nature of slavery or its economic aspects. The evidence was
practically all in,--supplied largely by the advertisements
of Southern newspapers and by the legislation of the slaveholding
States,--but it did not carry conviction; that is, the sort
of conviction that results in action. The subject had to be
carried home to the conscience. Pamphleteering, convention-holding,
sermons, had failed to do this. Even the degrading requirements
of the fugitive slave law, which brought shame and humiliation,
had not sufficed to fuse the public conscience, emphasize
the necessity of obedience to the moral law, and compel recognition
of the responsibility of the North for slavery. Evidence had
not done this, passionate appeals had not done it, vituperation
had not done it. What sort of presentation of the case would
gain the public ear and go to the heart? If Mrs. Stowe, in
all her fervor, had put forth first the facts in The Key
to Uncle Tom's Cabin, which so buttressed her romance,
the book would have had no more effect than had followed the
like compilations and arraignments. What was needed? If we
can discover this, we shall have the secret of this epoch-making
These are just a few starting points for your
further explorations. More will be added as we proceed.
Online Information about Style Sheets for Footnotes and Bibliographies:
Guide to Parenthetical MLA (Modern Language Association) Documentation
and Bibliographical Format, Assumption College English Department
Professors Ady and Thoreen
Perspectives in American Literature: A Research and Reference
Guide An Ongoing Online Project-- Appendix I: The Modern Language
Association (MLA) Style
Writer's Practical Guide To MLA Documentation
Workshop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Online Writing Lab at Purdue MLA Guidelines
a Bibliography: MLA Style, HCC Library
Style: Sample Bibliographic Entries (5th edition)
Asked Questions about MLA Style
NOTE: Essentially, most of the sites listed
above offer the same material in different types of formats.
You do not have to read or use all of these pages. Instead,
find one that uses a format that makes it possible to find the
information you need. Later, if you find yourself puzzled about
how to handle a particular citation, consult additional resources.
Introduction to Stowe:
Kelly Dugdale and Shannon Halpin
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Preface to end of
Chapter 11 "In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of
Mind," (page 114 in Bantam Classic edition). Discussion of the
Monday, October 16
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Chapter
11 to the end of Chapter 21, (page 256 in Bantam Classic edition).
Discussion of slave-trading and the St. Clare Household.
Here is how we will use our time in class:
1. Stowe Introduction by Kelly and Shannon.
2. Brief answers to remaining bibliography questions,
and a quick update on projects, guidelines,
and grading criteria.
3. Discussion of the "cast of characters"
in the novel.
Wednesday, October 18: Research Workshop--Finding Primary Resources
for Our Research Projects
Use the Uncle
Tom's Cabin and American Culture site at the University of Virginia
to find one or two resources that contribute to your understanding
of the novel. Come to class prepared to share your favorite resource
with the class and explain why you think it is helpful.
Additional Locations for Finding Primary Sources:
For material on abolitionist material, see Ultraists
vs. Nothingarians (Be sure to take a look at the links at the
bottom of the page; they will take you to related material.)
Monday, October 23: Eva's Role as Educator and Spiritual Role Model
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Chapter
22, "The Grass Withereth--The Flower Fadeth," to the end
of Chapter 28, "Reunion," (page 316)
Bring in a short (no more than a few sentences) description
of the specific topic you will discuss in your research paper.
Ex: "In my project, I will use the character
Topsy to show how Stowe argues that education and Christianity could
overcome characteristic pro-slavery forces regarded as inherent in
Africans and African-Americans."
Web Resources for Class Discussion--Images of Eva:
Eva reading the Bible to Uncle Tom in the arbor.
First Edition, 1852
and Tom, Illustration for Chapter 16, 1883 edition.
Eva and Henrique riding
and in the sitting room, 1883 edition.
Goodby to the Slaves, Chapter 26
and Topsy in 1888 edition
Clare and Eva, 1888 edition
Death 1888 edition
and Tom Writing a Letter, 1893 Edition
and Tom by the lake, 1897 edition
Dying, 1897 edition
and Topsy at Eva's bedside, 1897
and St. Clare, 1897 edition
and Topsy, 1897 edition
Wednesday, October 25: Research Workshop/Presentations on Work in
Progress--How to Read, Analyze, and Apply Secondary Resources
A 19th Century Illustration of Christianity and Progress
Moving Forward Hand in Hand
Articles will be supplied in Monday's class. If
you have a source you would like to discuss, please bring it in
by noon on Friday, October 20.
Prepare a written outline of your essay. You do
not need to use any particular outline structure. However, be sure
to list your main point and to list beneath each point the particular
quotes you intend to discuss in that section of your paper.
If you would like some guidance on improving your
draft of your paper, bring a copy to class today so that you can
benefit from Monday's in-class "Draft Workshop." Ideally,
it would be useful if you provided both a printed copy and a copy
on disk. You can submit a draft of the entire work, one "point"
of your argument, or even one or two paragraphs. Do what you believe
will be most useful. You are not required to take advantage of this
offer, but it does represent an important opportunity.
Monday, October 30: Draft Workshop
Wednesday, November 1:
Uncle Tom's Cabin,
Chapter 29, "The Unprotected" to the end of the novel.
*Note: Although this is the day we will be discussing
the conclusion in class, you should complete your reading of the
novel well before this date so that you are prepared to write your
paper. It would be impossible to write about Uncle Tom's Cabin
without reading the narrative as a whole.
During class, we will also discuss the completed
projects and the research and writing process.
NOTE: HERE'S INFORMATION ON HOW TO CITE AN
ILLUSTRATION. IT'S TAKEN FROM THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE:
Illustrations and tables.
In citing illustrations and tables, the abbreviation fig.
is used for figure, but the terms plate, map, and table are
given in full. It is usual, and helpful, to give the page
number as well as the illustration or table number. A comma
should follow the page number:
10. Margaretta M. Lovell, A Visitable Past: Views of Venice
by American Artists, 1860-1915 (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1989), 86, fig. 96.
Wednesday, November 8: Caught Between Two (or More) Cultures
Introductions to Chestnutt and Whitman
Charles Chestnutt's "The Wife of His Youth,"
Dean Howells on "Mr. Charles W. Chestnutt's Stories,"
Atlantic Monthly 85 (1900): 699-701.
Walt Whitman - Camden's Poet
The Whitman Project Main Index (University of Virginia Whitman Hypertext
Monday, November 13: MUST the True American
be a Yankee?
Introductions to Willa Cather:
Diana Rigor (Cather).
Gertrude Simmons Bonnin's "Impressions
of an Indian Childhood (pp. 1776-1787).
Willa Cather's "Neighbor Rossicky,"
(pp. 1830 ff.).
Resources on Bonnin/Zikala Sa--
Indians of North America--Biography
The School Days of an Indian Girl
An Indian Teacher Among Indians
Voices From the Gaps Gertrude Simmons Bonnin
Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin)
The American Experience America 1900 People & Events
Zitkala-Sa (short author bio)
WestWeb Western Women's History--includes links to Bonnin's texts
Resources on Education of Native Americans
of Angel DeCora originally published in 1911 in a journal called
The Red Man. Also available at the EmoryWomen
Writers Resource Project are a number of texts regarding Native
Americans, including Susette
La Fleshe's "An Indian Woman's Letter," (originally
from the letter written by an Indian teacher to the Omahas).
See projects done by Duke University Students on
Education: Documents from the 19th Century and Education
of Native Americans: Hampton Institute 1878-1923.
Representations of Native Americans in 18th and
19th Century America--
Chapter on "Philosopher as Savage" from a book entitled
FORGOTTEN FOUNDERS, Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale
for the American Revolution, By Bruce E. Johansen.
Wednesday, November 15: The Ongoing American Conversation on Race
Introductions to writers of the Harlem Renaissance:
Cassie Mallet (Hughes), Amy Pouliot (McKay). Be
sure to visit Sarah
Messier's Zora Neale Hurston page for resources on Hurston and
the Harlem Renaissance.
Yet Do I Marvel
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
Monday, November 20: When White Males Feel Excluded, Is Everyone
Sarah Arvanites (Faulkner). In preparation for
class, also be sure to consult Jessica
Tuozzoli's Fitzgerald Page.
Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams," (pp. 2125),
and Babylon Revisited," (pp. 2141 ff.)
and Faulkner's "Barn
Burning," (pp. 2175-2188)
How do the short stories by Fitzgerald and Faulkner
take part in the American conversation on the relationship between
money and morals, class and conscience? For a "time capsule"
of quotations from three distinct periods on this subject, see Money
and Morality in American Culture and Literature on our course
Faulkner American Writer 1897-1962, the University of Mississippi
and Academia, at the University of Mississippi
Biography and Etexts Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited": A Long Expostulation and
--an MA Thesis written by Thomas Larson;
includes interpretations, illustrations, discussions of Fitzgerald
criticism, and bibliogrpahy
Scott Fitzgerald at Lit Engine--Index
of links to biographical material, e-texts, letters, interviews,
reviews, and other resources.
Scott Fitzgerald, American Literature on the Web--Includes general
resources, e-texts, and information on the Jazz Age.
Scott Fitzgerald Country--An excellent website on Long Island
history; includes an essay on Fitzgerald and the
Website: A Film Version of Fitzgerald's "A Labor of Love"
Monday, November 27: Introduction to Edith Wharton's House of
Jessica Cullivan and Lisete Tavares (Wharton);
Renee Krajcik (The Gilded Age)
Chapters I to IX of Edith Wharton's House of
Mirth (pp. 1-102 in the Signet Classic Edition).
Preparation for Wharton Essay Question on Final Examination:
Think about how you might be able to draw upon
and expand the expertise you developed in your research into Uncle
Tom's Cabin and mid-nineteenth century American culture
in order to develop an interpretation of The House of Mirth.
Consider the issues that were part of the American conversation
int he middle of the nineteenth century. Are they still being debated
at the turn of the century, and has the debate changed? How do you
see The House of Mirth participating in that debate?
American Antiquarian Society 2001 American
Studies Seminar: "Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture
in Early America, 1674-1860."
Wednesday, November 29: Continuation of Wharton Discussion--What
Happens When Morals and Manners Become Confused?
Chapters IX to XV (pp. 102-176).
Monday, December 4: "Discovering What it Means to Be an America
He named for me the things you feel but
couldn't utter. . . . Jimmy's essays articulated for the first
time to white America what it meant to be American and a black
American at the same time."
--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. literary and
cultural critic, professor of English
Back in Harlem a few months ago, I filmed
a segment for 60 Minutes, which has never been shown. (No one
involved in the production has ever told me why. One person
who asked was told that I was "too antagonistic"; someone else
was told that I was not "antagonistic" enough.) We were on the
block where I grew up and in front of the building from which
I left home. My block is almost empty now, the buildings boarded
up and sealed. On the top floor of my building, 46 West 131st
Street, between Fifth and Lenox Avenues, had been my father
and my mother and my aunt, my brothers and my sisters, cousins,
travelers, wonder, music, joy! And I had witnesses.
It was a cold day but some people came out
of their caves to see me. I wondered how they lived inside them,
if they had heat or light. Some knew me from my youth, some
from the TV screen. What was marvelous for me was how they suddenly
appeared, as out of the ground. A patient young Black cop was
trying to explain something of this to one of the TV people
- but she tightened her skin around her like a cloak. A young
Black man even came out of one of the abandoned buildings to
offer me a large and very beautiful painting. He was a painter.
It had been hoped - by the TV people, I
think, not by me - that Black youngsters would erupt on camera,
arms raised and cursing Whitey! I said, "They won't and I know
they won't. They no longer expect anything from you." Or, in
other words, it can be said that Black people have managed to
survive White sympathy. Now White people must learn to live
without the reassurance of Black rage. --from
"whose Harlem is this anyway?"
Introduction: Rian Murray and Marty Driend
Jame's Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" (handout);
One of Baldwins Collected Essays (Library of America).
Commentators on Baldwin
(and the American Conversation)
on James Baldwin": From the Archives of the New York Times:
Articles, Book Reviews, Interviews (audio files).
Baldwin on Langston Hughes
Baldwin (1924-1987) Teacher Resource File at the Internet School
Library Media Center: Links, Bibliographies,
Interviews, Excerpts, and Lists of Secondary Resources
(Arthur) Baldwin at Books and Writers: Biography and brief bibliography.
Baldwin Bibliography at PAL
Baldwin's Obituary in The New York Times December
Search Results for James Baldwin
Wednesday, December 6: Bringing it All Together
American Life, 1934, Anatol Shulkin (1901 -1961)
Revisit the essays we read early in the semester
by Crevecoeur and Tocqueville.
"Who is this new . . . American?"
In the first part of your final examination, you will
be asked to write an analysis of Edith Wharton's novel, The House
of Mirth, that draws upon both your research in your subject
of specialization and the other works we have read this semester.
Use your reading of other primary and secondary texts
to develop an interpretation of the novel and to explain the particular
way that The House of Mirth participates in, and contributes
to, one signficant discussion that has evolved over the course of American
history and literature. (You will probably use your subject of specialization
as the focus for this essay, but you can feel free to choose a different
focus if you wish.)
In the second part of your final examination, you will
be asked to analyze the way in which three different literary works
from three different historical periods respond to a single theme in
the American "conversation." (The theme will be provided in
the exam itself.) Your goal will be to discuss the way those works illustrate
the evolution of American literature and culture, and also to offer
and defend your own interpretation of the relationship between literature