Survey of American Literature to 1865

Course Number: ENG 253
Transcript Title: American Literature to 1865
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisite / Concurrent

Course Description

Introduces the literature of the land which is now the United States from before European contact through the mid-nineteenth century. Revolves around written manifestations of the various interests, preoccupations, and experiences of the peoples creating and recreating American culture. Considers various literary forms, canonized (such as novel, narrative poem), popular (such as the serialized tale, verse) and unpublished (the jeremiad, Native American oratory, the slave narrative, diary). Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss strengths, limitations and cultural assumptions of the various literary forms practiced in America from its earliest days through the mid 1800s.
  2. Identify and discuss the roles of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and geography played in creating early American literature.
  3. Identify and address the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of early American literature.
  4. Identify and discuss aesthetic aspects of American literature, including plot, setting, character, dialect, oral storytelling, diction, metaphor and allegory.
  5. Use literary texts to examine the historical, rhetorical, and cultural contexts in which they were composed.
  6. Use literary theory to analyze early American texts.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include weekly written journals, participation in class discussions, creative projects, annotated bibliographies, quizzes and examinations, and literary analysis papers. 

Course Activities and Design

Lecture; assigned readings; discussion; written assignments.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Aesthetic aspects of literature.
  • Historical, political, cultural, rhetorical and socioeconomic contexts of early American life, including colonialism, Native American culture, slavery.
  • Close reading technique and theoretical approaches to texts.
  • Critical reading and thinking.
  • American identity as described and created by early American literature.
  • Literary research and analysis and synthesis of ideas.