English 442

ENGL 442
Early American Literature

Catalog Entry

ENGL 442. Early American Literature
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: CORE 101 and CORE 102

Study of colonial writers of Virginia and New England and major figures of American literature to 1830.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course provides English majors with an introduction to the literature of early America (prose pieces, religious and political treatises, sermons, poems, letters, journals, narratives) and traces the beginnings of the American literary tradition. Literature is taught within a solid historical and cultural context to put the readings in perspective.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

ENGL 442 uses a wide variety of instructional strategies which may include any number of the following: lecture; discussion; collaborative group work; individual or group student reports to elucidate primary texts or pertinent historical, biographical and cultural contexts; individual or group student creative presentations on course material; informal writing activities such as in-class focused writing exercises, readers’ logs, journals or discussion questions; audio-visual resources on literary works and authors as well as pertinent contexts; library instructional workshops to reinforce students’ information literacy and knowledge of resources available; peer writing groups on drafts of essays; individual or group conferences with the instructor on drafts of essays.


Goals and Objectives of Course

The fundamental goal of this course is to provide students with an appreciation of the formative literature of the United States. To fully appreciate this literature, students also will acquire a working knowledge of exploration, colonization, and settlement in the seventeenth century and the development of an American consciousness during the early Republic. To that end, students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • identify and discuss significant works and authors in early America;
  • identify and discuss significant developments, trends and movements in American literature from its beginnings to approximately 1830;
  • identify and discuss the interrelationships between literary works and between authors, in particular the influence of literary works or authors on subsequent works and authors;
  • identify and discuss some of the central thematic, theological, political, and aesthetic concerns of the time period covered, with particular attention to the development of literary genres;
  • identify and discuss some of the stylistic qualities of the literary works examined in the course;
  • identify and use a number of literary critical strategies in analyzing literary works;
  • explain the relationship between a particular text and its historical and literary contexts;
  • access electronic and printed sources pertinent to the study of the works and authors examined in the course.


Assessment Measures

ENGL 442 uses a variety of assessment measures, which may include a number of the following:

  • informal writing activities such as readers’ logs, journals and discussion questions;
  • in-class student oral presentations and recitations;
  • reading quizzes and examinations on the assigned readings;
  • in-class or take-home essay examinations on the assigned readings;
  • researched or non-researched essays on the history, culture, literary works and authors examined in the course;
  • research project and/or final essay focused on a single work or several works examined in the course;
  • short critical essays examining individual literary works within an historical, biographical, cultural or literary context;
  • short critical essays using specific literary strategies to analyze a literary work;
  • short critical essays to analyze the formal qualities of particular literary works.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009