About ENGL 1122 C

Selected texts from the beginnings to the Civil War. Explores periodization, genre, key terms and concepts through close reading and critical analysis. Fulfills major requirements; open to non-majors.


Open to degree and PACE students

Section Description

Early American Literature has a reputation for being...well...boring. This is unfortunate, because much of this writing is very beautiful, and much of it also is very strange. English-language writers from the colonial period through the Civil War grappled with issues such as race, citizenship, sexuality, and religion--and in doing so they produced complex but fascinating works. In this class we will consider how such writings force us to reckon not only with the messiness of this place called "America," but also with our very notions of what constitutes "literature." In addition to introducing students to some of the major developments in this body of literature, the course is designed as an introduction to literary study. Through analysis of a variety of genres (letters, essays, short fiction, poetry, and novels), we will explore the many ways that those inhabiting American space wrote about its promises, its dangers, and its failures. This course will provide students with a historical overview of some of the most important developments in American literary culture and introduce them to a wide range of writers (both familiar and perhaps unfamiliar) whose work shaped the course of that culture. It also will provide a more general point of entry to the study of literature and some of the key concepts that frame such study.

Section Expectation

Readings, class discussion, commonplace book, short reflections, close reading exercises, DIY final exam (students create their own exams for the course instead of taking an exam)


This course employs a style of assessment often referred to as “Contract Grading." Based on criteria I have established for the course—which are detailed on the syllabus—and in conjunction with your own intellectual needs/desires, you will decide what grade you wish to receive in this course, and you and I will agree that upon completion of the required criteria you will receive that grade. Why am I doing this? Frankly, because I dislike grading. I do not mean that I dislike reading student work, or that I dislike engaging with student ideas. Quite the contrary: I love those things; that’s why I became a professor. But what I don’t love is tying my engagement with your ideas and my feedback on your writing to a letter grade. Experience has taught me what academic studies of grading also show: people generally respond to material more creatively and in a more engaged fashion when grades are off the table. So, in this course, I will engage with your ideas, and I will offer a lot of feedback on your writing, and I will encourage you to rethink and rework your assessments of the texts—but your grade will not be part of that process. Instead, your grade will be the simple result of the effort you put into the course and the amount of the course you complete. This frees me up to be rigorous with my feedback without making you fear for your GPA, and it frees you up to push yourself, experiment, and get what you want out of this course.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


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