Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG250H1F L5101 M6-8; Tut W6 or W7
Introduction to American Literature
Professor Michael Cobb

Brief Description of Course: This course will be just a taste of major American writings that will introduce you to some large themes, ideas, ideologies, preoccupations, and aesthetics that inform the formal study of American literature: among many possible topics, we’ll likely encounter the Frontier; the Great Outdoors; American exceptionalism; the inheritances of chattel slavery; violent displacements of indigenous populations; industrialization; capitalism; struggles for social and legal equality among minority and gendered populations; and the erotics and toxicities of technology and new media.

Required Reading: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter;Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass;Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”; Zitkala-Sa, My Life: Impressions of an Indian Childhood, The School Days of an Indian Girl, Why I ama Pagan; Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets;Nella Larsen, Passing;James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain;Toni Morrison, Beloved; Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street; Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2;Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer.

First Three Authors/Texts: Hawthorne; Whitman; Melville.

Method of Instruction: Lecture/discussion.

Method of Evaluation:Mid-Term Test (35%); Participation (20%); Final Essay (45%).

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