History of American Literature I, section 201
Writing Lives of Men and Women
Fall 2007

Dr. Bridget M. Marshall:  bridget_marshall@uml.edu
Web site: http://faculty.uml.edu/bmarshall/

Our survey will explore texts from the beginnings of American literary history to the Civil War, focusing throughout on comparisons between the experiences and writings of women and men.  For most units, we will try to make direct comparisons between texts by (and about) men to those by (and about) women, hopefully drawing connections, continuities, and comparisons in the lives, experiences, and writing by these two groups.  Our goal is not to prove (or disprove) that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus,” but to consider the differences in the daily experiences and literary choices of authors.  A central thread running through our survey will be the evolution of gender expectations and relations from early contact narratives through pre-Civil War texts.  I believe tracing gender themes through our reading will attune us to changes in genre and literary expectations, and also to developing social movements and the ongoing changes in American culture.  No one-semester survey of this literature could be complete; however, I have attempted to give you a breadth of authors, including both canonical works and voices from the margins that are equally interesting and informative.  By the end of the semester, you should have a firm grasp of the history of major themes and currents in Early American literature.  And hopefully along the way, you’ll discover a few new writers that you will enjoy.

Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 to 1:45
Office Hours & Location: by appointment most days in O’Leary Library 414
Office Phone: 978-934-4179

Required Text: American Literature Volume I ed. by William E. Cain, published by Penguin Academics (Pearson-Longman) available at the South Campus Bookstore

Course Goals:

Course Requirements: 

Attendance is required.  You must be here to join class discussion, make presentations, and participate in group work.  You have two “freebies,” no questions asked.  For every class beyond those two that you miss, your final grade for the class will be lowered one level (A to A-, A- to B+, and so on).

Good classroom citizenship is required. Good classroom citizenship begins with being prepared for class.  Good classroom citizenship goes beyond just “participation” in the sense of raising your hand a lot. It includes sharing your thoughts and ACTIVELY LISTENING to the thoughts and comments of your peers.  Please be considerate of your classmates and make the classroom a space where everyone can speak their mind.  We will have both full-class discussions and small group work.  If you are not particularly comfortable speaking in the full-class discussion, be sure you are making up for it in the smaller group discussions.  Also, as a courtesy to everyone in the room, please turn off your cell phone before class begins.

You are responsible for all the readings and assignments listed on this syllabus. 

Course Assignments:

To make sure that everyone keeps up with the required readings, and to encourage class participation in discussions, during every class session a group of students (approximately 1/4th of the class most days) will be responsible for writing up one page of thoughts and questions about the reading.  I’ll provide more details on the specifics on this assignment.  The “one pagers” are due at the beginning of class. You will be responsible for writing four one-pagers.

There is one midterm paper due during the semester.  This is a focused essay of about 4 to 5 pages, illustrating your knowledge of and interest in a particular text that we have read in the class so far.  I will provide more details on the paper requirements in a separate handout.  You must have a paper in class on the day it is due in order to participate in the day’s classroom activities.

There is one in-class essay exam, roughly two-thirds of the way through the semester.  You will have choices about which questions to answer, and we will have some practice in class on how to write these kinds of essays. 

There is a two-part Digital Document Assignment.  It includes a brief oral presentation at an assigned point in the semester and a final paper of about 6 pages in length.  The paper is due during the exam period; there is no final exam.

Evaluation and Grading:

Grading is my least favorite aspect of the course; however, grades are necessary, not only to the University, but also in many cases in order to motivate students.  I note each day’s attendance with a “check” in my grade book.  You will get credit for all quizzes and short writing that you complete and turn in to me.  Particularly active class participation or strong short writing assignments will earn a “check plus.”  Following is a breakdown of final grades:


If you have a concern about a grade or a question about your standing in the class, I am happy to talk with you.  This type of conversation is best suited to an individual conference.  You can see me during my office hours, or schedule an appointment at another time.

A final note on grades: If you are determined to do only the minimal amount of work and get the minimum passing grade, you might want to know what the bottom line is.  This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of D unless you have attended at least 11 of 14 weeks worth of classes, and completed 90% of the assignments. 

Instructional Resources and Disability Accommodations: The Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services provide many resources, including tutoring in writing: http://class.uml.edu/.  In accordance with University policy and the ADA, I will provide accommodation for students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services: McGauvran 363, phone: (978) 934-4338 as soon as possible. This documentation is confidential.

About Academic Honesty:

All University policies on academic dishonesty apply to all assignments in this course. As explained in the University’s official policy, academic dishonesty includes:

Cheating - use, or attempted use, of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud, or misrepresentation of one's academic work.
Fabrication - falsification or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise.
Plagiarism - representing the words or ideas of another as one's own work in any academic exercise.
Facilitating dishonesty - helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, misrepresenting oneself, or allowing others to represent as their own one's papers, reports, or academic works.

If you plagiarize or cheat on an assignment, you will receive an “F” for this course, and you are subject to other discipline (including expulsion from the University) at the discretion of the instructor and the University. Please keep in mind that even if you write some part or even “most” of the paper, if some portion of the paper is copied from another source without proper attribution, (i.e., if you “only plagiarize a little”) you will still get an “F” for the course.  Don’t plagiarize at all.

Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.  You must cite all sources that you use, including online sources.  Also, remember that “using” a source includes DIRECTLY QUOTING, PARAPHRASING, AND USING IDEAS from any source.  There is nothing wrong with “getting help” from other writers, just be sure to acknowledge it by using quotation marks or author/page citation appropriately.  Please take the time to give proper credit to the work of other authors.  It is a matter of respect – for yourself, for other authors, for your classmates, and for me.

I know that it is easy to find information and indeed whole papers on the internet.  You should know that it is also easy for me to find these sources.  If I suspect you’ve done this, I will take the time to find the source, and there is every likelihood you will be caught.  Please don’t waste your time or mine by plagiarizing a paper.  If you’re having difficulty with a writing assignment, please talk to me before the day it is due.

Semester Schedule:

Thursday 6 September

First day Introductions; hand-outs

Tuesday 11 September

Read Handouts and “Welcome: Suggestions for Students” xii – xiv; check out the textbook
Bring a one-page response (explained in class)

Thursday 13 September

“Letter to the Reader – Contexts for Early American Literature”: 3 -33
Iroquois Creation Story: 44 -48

Tuesday 18 September

Christopher Columbus: 34 - 40
Bartolome de la Casas:: 41 -43
John Smith: 49 -52
William Bradford: 53 - 66

Thursday 20 September

Mary Rowlandson: 92 - 137

Tuesday 25 September

Anne Bradstreet: “The Author to her Book” 87 -88; “Before the Birth of One of Her Children” 88 -89; “To My Dear and Loving Husband” 89
Edward Taylor:  “Meditation 22” 139 – 140; “Meditation 38” 140 – 142; “Huswifery” 142
Michael Wigglesworth: see handouts

Thursday 27 September

Cotton Mather:  143 – 159 plus handouts

Tuesday 2 October

Jonathan Edwards: 160 -161; “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” 175 - 190

Thursday 4 October

Benjamin Franklin: 191 - 205
J Hector St. John de Crevecoeur: 304 - 311

Tuesday 9 October

John Adams and Abigail Adams: 312 – 315 & handouts
Thomas Paine 316 - 332

Thursday 11 October

Phillis Wheatley: 381 - 389
Philip Freneau: 377 – 380
Lydia Huntley Sigourney: 456 - 458
William Cullen Bryant: 459 - 466

Tuesday 16 October

Nathaniel Hawthorne: 557 -592

Thursday 18 October

Mid-Semester Paper Due

Friday 19

Digital Document Selection – E-mail for approval due today!
(this is not a class meeting!)

Tuesday 23 October

Washington Irving: 424 - 442

Thursday 25 October

Edgar Allan Poe: 786 - 813

Tuesday 30 October

Individual Presentations on Digital Documents

Thursday 1 November

Individual Presentations on Digital Documents Continued

Tuesday 6 November

Turn in Digital Document Assessment Survey

Emily Dickinson: 1304 – 1305 and selected poems as assigned


Thursday 8 November

Rebecca Harding Davis: 1323 - 1357


Tuesday 13 November

Ralph Waldo Emerson: 515 - 554



Thursday 15 November


Tuesday 20 November

NO CLASS: ONLINE ASSIGNMENT FOR TODAY work on Digital Document assignment on your own

Thursday 22 November


Tuesday 27 November

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 779 - 785
Henry David Thoreau: 953 – 957 AND 977 -990



Thursday 29 November

2/3 Exam In-Class today

Tuesday 4 December

Abraham Lincoln: 858 -862
Margaret Fuller: 863 -869
Harriet Beecher Stowe: 870 -884

Thursday 6 December

Harriet Ann Jacobs: 885 -952

Tuesday 11 December

Herman Melville: 1103 -1106; 1114 -1147

Thursday 13 December

Last Day of Class; Wrap-up discussions & review

Date TBA by registrar

Final paper – Digital Document Assignment


General Advice to Students:
Come to class prepared to work.  This means several things:
1) You should have completed the assigned readings, and any associated writing.  You might even have notes in your book, underlining of passages, or page markers for interesting spots in the reading.
2) You should be prepared to listen and talk in discussion.  This means you shouldn’t come to our class and take a nap, or sit sullenly, or complete your calculus homework.
3) You should avoid distractions during class.  Distractions include things like small pets, cell phones and text messaging devices, notes to classmates, i-pods, or any other gadget that will engage your brain in something other than the academic discussion in the classroom.  While you may think I don’t notice, I do, and so do your classmates.  It’s distracting for you, but also for those around you.

When you don’t come to class (for whatever reason) it is your responsibility to find out the work that was missed, including any handouts, in-class activities, or changes to the syllabus.  If you can do this via e-mail before the next class meeting, that’s great.  If you can’t, you should definitely come speak with me before class, after class, or in my office hours.    In any case, don’t try to avoid me, hoping that I didn’t notice you were absent. 

If you need extra time for an assignment, for whatever reason, it is better to ask early.  I do not automatically give extensions; however, I am a reasonable person, and you should ask for help or time if you need it.  I would rather have a late paper than no paper at all; I would rather have no paper at all than a plagiarized paper.  Late papers are subject to a grade reduction at my discretion, and I do not provide comments on late papers.
While much of what I’ve said above is obvious, I do not mean it to sound condescending; I assure you that every one of the things I’ve mentioned above has been a problem for some student I’ve had in one of my classes.  This is just a chance to remind you of how to be the good student you can be.