English R1B

Reading and Composition: Early American Literature - Pessimism and Unease

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2013 Junkerman, Nicholas
MWF 12-1 222 Wheeler

Book List

Brown, Charles Brockden: Wieland; Crevecour, J. Hector St. John de: Letters from an American Farmer; Rowson, Susanna: Charlotte Temple

Other Readings and Media

A course reader featuring shorter works and critical essays.


This course will concentrate on American works written in the decades following the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  We will be focusing on the work of authors who express unease, pessimism and even anger about the newly created United States.  While they have their hopeful moments, these texts raise serious questions about the stability, the morality and even the sanity of the new nation and its people.  We will consider these dark musings in their immediate historical context, but also in a larger sense.  What is the value of national pessimism?  What are the consequences of righteous anger?  How and why do we write about our fears?

As we explore these issues, we will also be working to develop tools and strategies for effective reading, writing and research.  This will take place alongside and in dialogue with the works that we encounter throughout the semester.  Students will write several papers, including a final research paper.  We will take the longer papers through the crucial stages of drafting and revision, a process which will include peer review sessions and meetings with the instructor.           

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