EGL 217s18

American Literature I is a survey of American literary history through the Civil War at Stony Brook University. The Spring 2018 syllabus is structured through Nathaniel Hawthorne’s historical novel The Scarlet Letter (1850), which is set in Massachusetts during the 1640s. We will trace several of the novel’s principal themes in some of Hawthorne’s source materials from early New England, through the colonial and early national periods, to its nineteenth-century context and beyond.


I. “‘A writer of story books!’” Antebellum Authorship

II.  “Whatever utopia of human virtue and happiness”: American Exceptionalism

III. “Wives and Maidens”: Colonial Women

IV. “His Own Unworthiness”: New England Souls

V. “The Whole Race of Womanhood”: Female Virtue in The Antebellum United States

VI. “When the world should have grown ripe for it”: Radicalism and Gradualism



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