English 381A: American Romanticism

Instructor: ElizabethPetrino                        Spring Semester -- 2003
Office: DM 109                                                   Office Hours: W 1-3 and by appointment
Office Phone: - 3014

Required Texts:

1.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson (Riverside)
2. Hawthorne, Selected Tales (Norton)
3.  Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Penguin)
4. Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (Penguin)
5.Davis, Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories (Feminist Press)
6.  Poe, The Portable Poe (Penguin)
7.  Walt Whitman,Leaves of Grass (Penguin)
8.  Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little, Brown)

Course Descriptions and Objectives:
This course will provide an introduction to selected transcendentalists and the flowering of intellectual and social life in nineteenth-century America.   Although we will read primarily literary texts, we will also examine extra-literary materials, including paintings, photographs, and book design, as a way to understand American culture.  In addition, the course is designed to teach you the skills that are important to any graduate student.  Those skills include the following: interpretative essays, oral reports, and essay tests.  To read critically and evaluatively, to learn the elements of style and finesse in writing, will be our goal.  I will be your guide and mentor this semester, encouraging you to improve, supervising your projects, and aiding your discussions and reports.  Don’t feel afraid to see me!

1. One interpretive essay (20% of grade) (3-5 pp.), discussing a focussed topic of literary and cultural relevance in one of the works we have read.  These papers should discuss one literary work in light of a critical article.  Twice during the term, each student will prepare a short (1-2 pp.) draft on an assigned date.  Copies should be prepared and distributed before the beginning of class.  The student will then present the paper to the class, and discussion will follow.  I will suggest topics to you, but you should feel free to develop your own.  These papers should then be rewritten and submitted to me no more than two weeks later.

2. Two tests (15% each of grade), to be written in class on the assigned dates.  The tests will be a combination of identifications and essays, and will cover the material read in each unit.  I will draw for the essays from study questions that cover each writer.

3. Reading quizzes (20% of course grade), drawn from the material throughout the course, on assigned dates.  The quiz questions will be drawn from study questions given out each week.  No make-up quizzes are allowed, unless students come to take the make-up quiz before I hand back the corrected quiz in class.  At least six quizzes will be given, but I will drop the lowest grade.

4. Final examination (30% of course grade), based on essays and short identifications, that reflects on the course as a whole.The final will be a take-home essay examination that tests students on all aspects of the course.

4. Attendance is mandatory and will dramatically affect a student’s overall course grade.  If you miss class for any reason, you are responsible for finding out what you missed, by contacting me or another student in the course.  In accordance with University policy, students participating in University-sponsored events (i.e. Glee Club, orchestra, & theater performances, variety & club sports) are excused without penalty.  I require that you submit a schedule of such events at the beginning of the semester.  Homework due that day must be submitted to me prior to class.  Work done in class must be made up within a class following the event.  Because any class disrupts your performance in the course, students are advised that missing more than six classes may result in a lowered grade.  Students will be asked to read a critical article or portion of a book chapter for each class and to contribute informally to class discussion.  The frequency as well as the cogency of your remarks and preparation will contribute to your final grade.  Don’t be afraid to see me or to speak up!


TF 2:00-2:50, W 3:00-3:50DMH 347

Jan      14     Introduction: The American Renaissance: Romance and Transcendentalism

            15    Poe as Poet

                    Poe: “Romance” (603), “To Helen” (605), “A Dream Within a Dream” (599)
            17     Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (244-268)
            21    Poe: “Annabel Lee” (632-634), “The Raven” (617-623)
            22    Poe: “Ligeia” (225-244)

            24    Emerson: Social Activism and Artistic Inheritance

                    Journal, 1-11, 12-21; Poetry: “Each and All” (413), “The Rhodora” (414)
            28    Emerson: “Nature” (21-56)
            29    Emerson: “The American Scholar” (63-80)
            31    Emerson: “Self-Reliance” (147-168)

Feb      4     Emerson: “Circles” (168-178); “Days” (451), “Brahma” (451), “Maia” (452)

            5     Hawthorne: Retelling Puritan History
                     “Young Goodman Brown” (65-75)

            7      Hawthorne: “The Minister’s Black Veil” (97-107)

            11    Hawthorne: “The Birthmark” (118-131)

            12     Hawthorne: “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” (3-17)

            14     Hawthorne

            18    Douglass and Thoreau: Individual Freedom and Social Conformity
                    Douglass, Narrative: “Preface,” “Letter from Wendell Phillips, Esq.,” Chap. 1-3 (33-63)

            19    Test #1

            21     Douglass, Chap. 4-7 (65-87)

            25     Douglass, Chap. 8-9 (89-100)

            28     Douglass, Chap. 10-11 (101-135)

Mar        4      Thoreau: Walden, “Economy” (93-124)

               5      Thoreau: Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” (125-143)

               7       Romanticism, Luminism, and American Landscape Painting (read article)


            18     Thoreau: Walden, “The Bean-Field” (200-212)

            19    Thoreau: Walden, “Spring,” “Conclusion” (347-367, 368-382); poems

            21    Thoreau: “On Civil Disobedience” (385-413)

            25     Davis and Melville: Romanticism and Satire
                     Davis: Life in the Iron Mills (11-37)

            26     Davis: Life in the Iron Mills (38-65)

            28     Melville: “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (xerox; begin)

Apr      1        Melville: “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (finish)

            2    Whitman —Vocation and Canon
                From Autumn Rivulets: “There Was a Child Went Forth” (138-139); from Whispers of Heavenly Death: “A
                Noiseless Patient Spider” (xerox); from By the Roadside: “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (xerox)

            4    Test #2

            8     Frontispiece to Leaves of Grass (2); “Song of Myself” (25-53)

            9     "Song of Myself" (54-86)

            11     From Drum-Taps:
“Beat! Beat! Drums!”, “Come Up From the Fields, Father,” “Vigil Strange,” “The Wound-Dresser,” “The Artilleryman’s Vision”; Civil War Photography (xeroxes)

            15    Dickinson—Vocation and Canon

                    Letters to Thomas Wentworth Higginson (L 260, 261, 265, 268); Letters on ED from TWH to his wife (xeroxes on reserve); J 216 (“Safe in their Alabaster Chambers”), 318 (“I’ll tell you how the sun rose”), 319 (“The nearest dream recedes unrealized”), 320 (“We play at paste”), 742 (“Four trees upon a solitary acre”)

            16    Dickinson—Point of View, Voice, and Nature

67 (“Success is counted sweetest”), 130 (“These are the days when birds come back”), 214 (“I taste a liquor never brewed”; cf. Emerson, “The Snowstorm”), 258 (“There’s a certain slant of light”), 712 (“Because I could not stop for death”), 1052 (“I never saw a moor), 1755 (“To make a prairie”)


            22     Dickinson—Natural Spaces, Secular Places

J 59 (“A little East of Jordan”), 61 (“Papa above!”), 324 (“Some keep the Sabbath”), 448 (“This was a Poet”), 709 (“Publication is the Auction”), 797 (“By my window”), 668 (“‘Nature’ is what we see”), 254 (“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers”), 164 (“Mama never forgets”), 501 (“This world is not conclusion”)

            23    Dickinson—Feminism and the Myths of Nature

J 24 (“There is a morn by men unseen”), 106 (“The Daisy follows soft”), 199 (“I’m wife’”), 1737 (“Rearrange a ‘Wife’s’ affection”), 461 (“A Wife at Daybreak”), 508 (“I’m ceded”), 722 (“Sweet mountains”), 732 (“She rose to his requirement”), 601 (“A still—volcano—life”), 754 (“My Life had stood a loaded Gun”), 1677 (“On my volcano”), 1705 (“Volcanoes be in Sicily”), 1748 (“The reticent volcano”), 1072 (“Title divine”)

            25     Conclusion (evaluations and exam review)

  Final Examinations due no later than Tues., May 6 at 1:30 p.m.