English R1A

Reading & Composition: Imagining America, Imagining a New World

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2012 Mansouri, Leila
MWF 1-2 222 Wheeler

Book List

Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders; Franklin, Benjamin: The Autobiography and Other Writings; Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers, 6th edition; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest

Other Readings and Media

A course reader including excerpts and short works by John Winthrop, Phillis Wheatley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and others.



What do we imagine when we imagine America? Is America a place? A set of ideals? Both? For the writers we’ll look at, America was a “new world” – one that represented not only a new and uncharted space on the map but a space for conceiving novel relations between man and society, man and government, and man and God. We’ll look at how a number of writers imagined America – and, especially, at how these writers’ imagined Americas were shaped by religious, political, and philosophical ideas – and we’ll ask what’s at stake in the ways each of the writers figured this new world. In doing so, we’ll also ask what, if anything, these imagined Americas have to do with the reality of life in the American colonies and, later, the United States of America.

Our discussion of how these writers imagine America will be shaped by a close attention to the way these writers use rhetoric and figurative language, with an eye to how we might learn from their writing to improve our own. To that end, frequent short responses that ask you to pay close attention to both these writers’ sentences and your own will help you to hone your prose and your critical reading skills. Additionally, over the course of the semester, you will write and a number of short essays, totaling 32 pages including drafts. The peer-review and revision process for each essay will help you learn to fully develop your ideas, engage and persuade your audience, and sharpen your prose.


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