ENGL 200 I: Reading Literary Forms

Introduction to American Literature: Race, Form, and Genre

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
CDH 717
Caleb Knapp

Additional Details:

English 200 I

Caleb Knapp

Introduction to American Literature: Race, Form, and Genre

This survey course introduces students to American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Texts published during this period render cultural processes visible as the U.S. undergoes the massive political and economic shifts that occur with the abolition of slavery, the importation of Chinese “free labor,” Reconstruction, the emergence of Jim Crow laws, and U.S. imperial expansion. For this reason these texts are rich sites for analysis of the “work” that literary forms and genres do at moments when liberal democratic ideals of freedom, individualism, and universal equality come into conflict with forms of racial violence and the exploitation of racialized labor. Through readings of slave narratives, short stories, novels, and essays, we will examine not only literary aesthetics but especially the ways that literary forms and genres enact racial violence. Questions we ask will include: how do certain forms and genres allow and disallow an author to say certain things about slavery, segregation, and colonization? How do certain forms and genres enable some people to write themselves into national narratives of freedom and liberal individualism while excluding others? How do form and genre attempt and often fail to reconcile contradictions between liberal ideals and racial exploitation? How do authors imagine alternatives to national narratives through literary form and genre?

Course authors will likely include Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, W. E. B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, and Carlos Bulosan.

This course fulfills the “W” credit and requires two 5-7 page essays, smaller writing assignments, and participation in class discussions.

Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 3:58pm