English 205-3478 American Literature from the Beginnings to 1880. 3 credits

Dr. Anne Mills King

This is a generic course syllabus, without dates, to let you know what to expect,


This course will trace revolution and change in America from the earliest inhabitants through the age of exploration, the colonial period, the writers of 1776, culminating in the Romantic period in New England and the writers of the Civil War. It will see how the lives of colonists, explorers, women, slaves, and immigrants changed as reflected in prose, fiction, and poetry from America. We will study explorers= journals, slave narratives, autobiography, letters, captivity tales, and Native American tradition to see a well-rounded picture of America=s writers and their writings. Welcome to what I hope will be a pleasant semester=s reading.


How to find me: Office: Marlboro 3056. Office hours posted on the door. Phone: 301-322-0594. Call and leave a voice mail; Ill return it!

E-mail: aking@pgcc.edu


This syllabus and much other information will be on my web page: http://academic.pgcc.edu/~aking


Textbook: The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lauter, ed. Volume 1, 4th edition.


Attendance: You are expected to attend class, be on time, and turn in assignments on time. I will not accept late papers, and I expect that everyone will have read the assignments on the day they are due. If you have a problem, let me know.


What to expect: Though deadlines are firm, assignments are flexible. You will have five grades: tests, papers, and projects. In addition, a journal is required. You will be downgraded for late papers (unacceptable anyway) and for excessive absences (more than 4 absences will take away 5% of your grade). Don=t stay away from class if you are unprepared; you will lose doubly. All papers must be typed. What you learn here meshes with other courses in history, sociology, literature. We will have films, music, possible field trips, and other unique not-to-be-missed happenings.



$                   Journals (10%)

$                   Participation (5%)

$                   Attendance (5-10%)

$                   Short papers and reports (5% each, up to 15%)

$                   Paper II (20%)

$                   Midterm test (20%)

$                   Final test (25%)



Here=s how I figure grades: A=3.6-4.0; B=2.6-3.5; C= 1.6-2.5; D= .8-1.5; F= 0


By the end of the course, you will have lots of detailed feedback from me on your semester=s work, and I will have it on my computer.



Journal: is a chronicle of your reactions as you read, not a rehash of plot or text or web material. It can include your comments, reactions, clippings, book reviews from magazines or newspapers (sources acknowledged), or drawings.

The presence of a Journal can include the preliminary drafts of the analytical papers, reactions to your reading as you read, questions for discussion in class, responses to questions put by the instructor, newspaper clippings and programs of cultural events, the products of in‑class writing periods and quizzes, comments on your classmates' oral reports, and other things listed in the handout "What is a Journal?". I will read and comment on your Journal at intervals, though your grade will come at the end. The journal is a way to communicate, and a mine for material for your papers as well as a guide for study for your tests. Journal excellence will be rewarded by a grade at the end of the semester.


Projects: Oral or written reports on some of the authors and writings in the anthology not assigned to the whole class. They may be a mini-lesson for the class on a favorite writer, or a panel discussion (Meeting of the Minds). You will do at least two of these during the semester; assignments will be made early after you explore the book. Be sure to read the excellent introductions to the anthology sections; even if I do not assign them.

Since you will know ahead of time that I will be checking your papers for originality, if I find plagiarism on your part, you will receive a zero for that paper without any chance of re-writing it. This will lower your grade for the course considerably. This is a serious offense in this college and elsewhere; if it is repeated you are in danger of being expelled from the college.




Study guides are sheets which I make up and hand out to you. They generally consist of questions, on the theory that in this course there are more questions than answers! Occasionally I may outline for you a particularly difficult or very important

selection. You might ask‑‑"What am I to do with these things?" What you should NOT do is stick them away and forget about them. What you might do is one or more of the following:


<                    Each take one question, discuss in class. You are responsible for all information on all the questions for tests, so you should listen to the other class members' responses.


<                    Use them as a guide to reading, explanations, further notes.


<                    Use them as a guide towards the papers and projects you are working on, to find a "handle" on the material for further writing.


<                    Use them as starting points for informal Journal entries.


<                    Use them as hints of possible future exam questions or daily quiz questions.

Class attendance in college


You are expected to attend college classes in a mature, serious manner. If you need to miss class, it is your responsibility to make up the work or to inform yourself about material discussed in class.

$                   You must come to class on time and stay until the class is dismissed. I will pass around an attendance sheet for you to sign in the first ten minutes of class; after that you may no longer sign it.

$                   Absences, including not signing the attendance sheet, will affect your grade. If you have more than two week=s worth of absences, you will lose up to 10% of your grade for the course.

$                   If you need to leave the classroom during the class time, do not return and disrupt the class a second time.

$                   Try not to make other appointments during the time you are expected to be in class. If this is absolutely unavoidable, let me know ahead of time.

What to expect from me:

$                   Call if you have a problem, and I will return your call.

$                   When deadlines are announced, they will be firm. Tests cannot be made up, unless by special arrangement before the test is given. Tests and papers will be returned, graded, within one week.

$                   You are responsible for much of the research on the writers and their works, using the library facilities. I will tie it all together to make your study of British literature more rewarding and fascinating. You will be amazed at how the writers we study mesh with what you have learned in history, psychology, and sociology courses

$                   In class, expect to have a relaxed, informal atmosphere with much student participation. We may attend a play or take another excursion.

$                   I expect mature, responsible behavior‑‑like arriving in class on time and being respectful to others at all times. All papers must be typed. We will have quizzes on the assigned readings on the days they are assigned to be read.


Literary Research Tools on World Wide Web--


You will visit the college library for a presentation by a librarian of the latest tools the library has for research on American literature.


1. Literary Research Tools on the Net--an excellent list of all kinds of sources and easy to move around in


2. Your anthology has a very useful web site:


3. Voice of the Shuttle (a classical allusion!)


4. Pitsco resources


5. Poetry:



6. Quotations




DEADLINES are firm and indicated on the assignment sheet. Tests are given on the day announced; there are no make‑up tests.






Introduction: the readings, the classmates, the teacher. I will summarize some of the material in the Heath anthology; you take notes and think about what areas you are particularly interested in. There are two kinds of reading: what everyone reads, and what you read for your own project.



Native American:

Changing Woman



Christopher Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca; sign up for projects on colonial period to 1700 (list)



Discovery and Exploration; see video Home from Home

John Smith, Bradford, Frethorne. JOURNAL CHECK



Library visit to learn about the library=s resources for this course



Anne Bradstreet



Rowlandson, Edwards



Paper I due (handout on this) Hand in journal for comments.



Ebenezer Cook, Knight




Olaudah Equiano

What makes an American (projects) JOURNAL CHECK



The Enlightenment: Benjamin Franklin,



Crevecoeur, Thomas Paine



Thomas Jefferson



Phillis Wheatley, Susanna Rowson



Washington Irving



Midterm Exam



Cooper; present more projects in class from last half of the book



Emerson, Fuller



Frederick Douglass



Edgar Allan Poe



College closed; spring break



Harriet Jacobs



Analytical paper due (separate list of possible topics)

Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government



Hawthorne, Stowe



The Civil War: Whitman




Last day to withdraw



Emily Dickinson: poems numbered (not pages): 249, 258, 280, 288, 303, 306, 324, 341, 401, 435, 441, 465, 640, 657, 712, 754, 986, 1072, 1129



continue Emily Dickinson; video The Belle of Amherst




review for final exam



Final Exam; FINAL JOURNAL hand in


EGL 205: American Literature from the Beginnings to the Late Nineteenth Century





Students who have successfully completed the course will be able to:


1. Identify major authors and works of the period from 1608 to 1880.

2. Identify and describe important literary movements and place specific works in their contexts.


3. Explain how religious, economic, and political forces helped shape American literature.


4. Identity important literary forms of early American literature.


5. Apply at least one critical approach to reading and analyzing a text with documented sources.