ENGL 2655 Introduction to American Literature 1


Judith L. Strathearn, Ph.D.

Email: strathea@colorado.edu


Early American Literature: Writing a New Nation investigates the various writing and literature of early America (1600-1865). Through essays, personal narratives, fiction and poetry, we will examine how the nation was created and recreated over those years. We will explore not only the literary techniques employed by various authors but connect those forms with the historical, social, and cultural shifts during this time. Our course will conclude by discussing how the past and these writings are reflected in our modern society or the modern nation.


  • Compare and contrast how writers from the beginnings of the creation of the United States to the end of the Civil War (1865) respond, reflect upon and reimagine racism, sexism, and classism.
  • Describe and define the different forms of American literature and writings the ways in which authors create, shape, and modify those forms in their writings.
  • Synthesize and discuss the primary (or “required readings”) for each of our modules in connection with the secondary (or “cluster readings”) materials through critical analysis and close reading to address the guiding questions for each module.
  • Enhance writing skills through formal and informal writing assignments. Students will work with MLA citation formatting in their formal essays that will use textual evidence to support well-constructed argumentative ideas.

Course Schedule Overview

  • Module 1: Constructing Nationhood
  • Module 2: Slavery, Race, and the Meaning of American Literature
  • Module 3: Women, Nation & American Literature
  • Module 4: Changing American Nation & Literature
  • Module 5: Course Wrap Up & Final Exam


REQUIRED: Levine, Robert ed. Norton Anthology of American Literature (Shorter Ninth Edition; Volume 1) [Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Norton-Anthology-American-Literature-Shorter/dp/0393264521/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1527271880&sr=1-1&keywords=the+norton+anthology+of+american+literature+shorter+ninth+edition]

OPTIONAL: Gardner, Janet. Reading and Writing About Literature: A Portable Guide 3rd edition (ISBN 1457606496) – this is an optional text, but it is a great (and inexpensive) resource for reading and writing about literature

Additional required readings and supplementary materials will be on our course site in PDF and media forms.


Weekly Discussion Posts (4 weeks; 100 points each)    400 points
Final Exam Essay   100 points
Introduction and Closing Discussion Boards      50 points


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1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado