This course will introduce you to the key transformations and texts produced in North America and the Caribbean from the era of European contact, or conquest, through the U.S. War of Independence. We will look at
- the Spanish and English and Anglo-African narratives that emerged in the plantation zone from Virginia to Surinam;
- writing and material culture in New England, especially during King Philip’s War (c.1676);
- colonial elite self-fashioning within an imperial Atlantic world;
- revolutionary political thought and artistic anxiety.
We will move at a brisk pace through the first half of the term, covering ground quickly.
For seniors, I see this as one of the capstone experiences of your concentration. For graduate students, especially Americanists seeking a longer historical view or Early Modern specialists curious about the wider Atlantic and imperial world, this course will provide an excellent introduction to the material, and help you expand your teaching repertoire.
(Probable) Course Texts:
- A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, Thomas Harriot (1588)
- A True and Exact History of Barbados, Richard Ligon (1657)
- The Narrative of the Captivity, Mary Rowlandson (1682)
- Oroonoko, or, The Royal Slave, Aphra Behn (1688)
- Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the 18th Century, ed. Vincent Carretta
- The Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin (1771-1790)
- A Short Narrative of My Life, Samson Occom (1768)
- The Coquette, or, The History of Eliza Wharton, Hannah Webster Foster (1797)
- Wieland, or, The Transformation, Charles Brockden Brown (1798)
Coursepack is available at Accu-Copy on William Street
The first half of the term will involve a short paper and a midterm. Much of the second half of the term you will be working — alone, in small groups, and in consultation with me — on a 12-15pp research paper. We will explore the Clements Library, and its extensive collection of early Americana, as well as virtual archives (like the “Early American Imprints” collection) so that you can find a topic that compels you, learn about archival research, read scholarship and historiography associated with your topic, and write (and revise) an original analytical paper.
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