This course will focus on the central role of Black and Indigenous people in the vast period of American literary history up to the mid 19th century. We will consider how Black and Indigenous presences haunted white-authored text, even ones without any explicitly racialized characters. And in turn, we will read less-canonical writings by Black and Indigenous writers who resist the dominant racist ideologies that perpetuated slavery and settler colonialism. The course will begin in the early 1600s, with the first English colonization of what’s now the US, move through time of the American Revolution, to the 1830s and the period of Indian Removal, and end with literature about slavery and abolition. Some topics we will address include: white anxieties about Black and Indigenous rebellion, white racism disguised as benevolence, who gets included into the literary canon and why, and what are some of the numerous ways freedom might in appear in unexpected ways, even under conditions of duress.
Readings will likely include: Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, John Winthrop’s “Reasons to be Considered for the Plantation in New England,” Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, William Apess’s “Eulogy on King Philip,” Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig, and Mark Twain’s writings on Hawai’i.
Format: Asynchronous online. Recorded lectures and materials via Laulima/YouTube, class discussions will take place on Slack.
Books: No books required. All materials will be available online.
Assignments: In addition to weekly Slack posts, assignments will include close-reading based literary analysis essays, an annotated bibliography, and a final portfolio.