Course Number:
ENG 253
Transcript Title:
Survey of American Literature to 1865
Aug 10, 2022
Jul 11, 2023
Total Credits:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture / Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement:
Satisfies General Education requirement:
Grading Options
A-F, P/NP, Audit
Default Grading Options
Repeats available for credit:

Prerequisite / Concurrent

WR 121 or WR 121Z

Course Description

Introduces the literature of the land which is now the United States from before European contact through the mid-nineteenth century. Revolves around written manifestations of the various interests, preoccupations, and experiences of the peoples creating and recreating American culture. Considers various literary forms, canonized (such as novel, narrative poem), popular (such as the serialized tale, verse) and unpublished (the jeremiad, Native American oratory, the slave narrative, diary). Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121 or WR 121Z. Audit available

Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss strengths, limitations and cultural assumptions of the various literary forms practiced in America from its earliest days through the mid 1800s.
  2. Identify and discuss the roles of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and geography played in creating early American literature.
  3. Identify and address the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of early American literature.
  4. Identify and discuss aesthetic aspects of American literature, including plot, setting, character, dialect, oral storytelling, diction, metaphor and allegory.
  5. Use literary texts to examine the historical, rhetorical, and cultural contexts in which they were composed.
  6. Use literary theory to analyze early American texts.

Alignment with Institutional Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
Not Addressed
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)
4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Suggested Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include weekly written journals, participation in class discussions, creative projects, annotated bibliographies, quizzes and examinations, and literary analysis papers. 

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content

  • Aesthetic aspects of literature.
  • Historical, political, cultural, rhetorical and socioeconomic contexts of early American life, including colonialism, Native American culture, slavery.
  • Close reading technique and theoretical approaches to texts.
  • Critical reading and thinking.
  • American identity as described and created by early American literature.
  • Literary research and analysis and synthesis of ideas.

Suggested Texts and Materials

At least 60% of all course texts and materials in the WFLL should be written by a combination of women and other marginalized communities (people of color, LGBTQ, disabled authors, etc.

OER:  Project Gutenberg contains many texts written during this time period.

Completely at the instructor’s discretion, but may include:
  • Sermons by John Edwards and John Winthrop
  • The Amazing Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • Harriet James: Life of a Slave Girl
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes to the State of Virgina”
  • Judith Sargeant Murray “On the Equlity of the Sexes” 
  • Phyllis Wheatley poetry
  • Emily Dickinson poetry
  • Walt  Whitman Leaves of Grass
  • Elizabeth Stady Canton “Declaration of Sentiments”
  • Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  • Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Frederick Douglas “Speech on the Fourth of July”
  • Chief Joseph’s speeches
  • diary excerpts from the Trail of Tears