ENG 342: Early American Literature

 

Dr. Henigman 3 credits

          In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the North American continent was a stage for contacts among many cultures and peoples – European, native American, African.  At the same time, print culture was evolving rapidly, along with new reading and writing practices, fundamentally altering the relationship between writer and reader and the meaning of textuality.   We will examine the various genres important in early modern America -- commonplaces, conversion narratives, legal depositions, promotional literature, captivity narratives, and others (including manuscript and early print sources).  How do writers in America imagine their local communities and their relationship to the imperial center?  How do Puritan reading and writing practices illuminate the ways in which ministers and lay people negotiated their changing relationships?  How is the Indian voice represented in these mostly European-authored books, and how do we understand the print gesture of labeling certain books as “Indian-authored”?  Writers may include Cabeza de Vaca, Mary Rowlandson, Mary Jemison, Black Hawk, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Jefferson, and others.   

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