Main

July 23, 2009

Journal #6

Journal #6 is due in class on Monday, July 31st.

The last section of the course focuses both on the intersection of the personal and the political, and, particularly with respect to the authors we read this week, on the formation of American identity. For Monday, consider how the personal and political intersect around American identity in the work of one or more of the following authors: Herman Melville, Benjamin Franklin, J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur, and Thomas Paine.

July 16, 2009

Journal #5

Journal #5 is due in class on Monday, July 20th. Choose from one of the following prompts, or come up with a topic of your own choosing.

Consider the impact of Emerson's notion of "self-reliance" upon personal relationships.

If Emerson advocates self-reliance, what kind of relationship to the self does Thoreau encourage? Give that relationship a name and explain why it fits.

Examine the relationship between "I" and "you" in Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself."

Consider the question of audience with respect to Emily Dickinson. Who was she writing for? And why? (Here it would be wise not just to rely on the biographical data, but to think about this in terms of the specific poems you read.)

July 13, 2009

Journal #4

We'll be writing this journal at the end of class on Monday, 7/13. If you happen to miss this class, feel free to complete a journal entry on one of the following prompts, or write on an issue of your choosing, and bring your journal to class on Wednesday.

Journal Prompts (Choose One)

Can we productively consider Mary Rowlandson's Narrative as an investigation of trauma? Why or why not? If we can, what is such a consideration productive of?

Does Anne Bradsteet's poetry launch an implicit critique of Puritan theology? If so, discuss the nature of that critique. If not, what do you see as Bradstreet's relationship to Puritan theology?

Compare and contrast the essays by Sarah Kemble Knight and William Byrd along one or more of the following lines: questions of gender, North versus South, Puritan versus Cavalier, or any other of your choosing.

Discuss the tension in the presentation of God and one's relationship to God as made manifest in the differences between Jonathan Edward's personal narrative and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

July 2, 2009

Journal #3

The topic this time is deliberately loose, but I will provide some additional ideas in case you feel a bit stuck.

--Choose a topic from The House of the Seven Gables which we didn't fully explore in class, or didn't explore in the way you're most interested in, and write on that topic. Suggestions: 1) The engagement of the text with questions of aesthetics (and the ethical implications thereof); 2) Questions of gender posed by the text (including, but not limited to, Phoebe's persistent role as nursemaid); 3) Questions of narrative structure, perhaps most specifically highlighted by the "Alice Pyncheon" chapter; 4) The text's commentary (or lack thereof) on the political, philosophical, scientific, etc. currents of its moment.

Again, 1-2 pages either hand-written or typed. And, again, feel free to deviate entirely from the suggestions if you've got something else on your mind.

June 25, 2009

Journal #2

*As always, this topic is a suggestion. Feel free to write on an issue of your choosing related to The House of the Seven Gables.

Consider whether the house does, in fact, as many critics have suggested, operate as a character in the text. If you believe it does, what are its attributes and how does it contribute to the development of the narrative? If not, how does the house function in the text? Feel free to situate your discussion with respect to the themes of domestic space and domesticity discussed in class today.

Requirements: 1-2 pages, handwritten is fine (but type if your writing is less than legible); this is an informal assignment--full engagement with the suggested topic, or one of your own choosing, will result in full points received.

June 18, 2009

Journal #1

*As always, this topic is a suggestion. Feel free to write on an issue of your choosing, related to the course texts, if you are so inclined.

We'll begin with a very loose suggestion: Consider the operation of space/place (i.e. domestic space, frontier space, etc.) in the work of at least one of the authors from the first week of the course (Poe, Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca, Smith, Morton, Bradford, or Winthrop). How does the author make use of space? Does the space the author writes about constrain the text? Is such constrainment something the author struggles against? Embraces? In what ways does space serve as a metaphor, and what does it represent? What does the author's engagement with the problem of space reveal about their relationship to the American context at the moment of their writing?

Requirements: 1-2 pages, handwritten is fine (but type if your writing is less than legible); this is an informal assignment--full engagement with the suggested topic, or one of your own choosing, will result in full points received.