American Studies 11: The American Dream
Professors Clark, Guttmann, and Sanchez-Eppler
More than any other nation, the United States has envisioned itself as a landscape of pure possibility. From the 17th century to the present, an ever-shifting "American Dream" has been the repository of Americans' longing for a new kind of personal and national life. In this class we will consider how Americans have imagined their dream in terms of everything from political freedom to home ownership.
Readings will include the following books available for purchase at Amherst Books:
Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild (1996)
Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682) (Bedford edition)
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (1791)
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) (Bedford edition)
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855) (small Penguin edition)
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949)
Thomas Hine, Populuxe (1986)
Philip Roth, The Human Stain (2000)
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)
Additional readings marked with (E) on the syllabus are available through E-reserves on the course web-page.
Introduction: American Dreams
Tues. Sept. 8 Hand-out: United States Citizenship Test.
Wed. Sept. 9 Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild (1996), pp. 1-60.
Mon. Sept. 14 Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, pp. 61-203.
Unit 1: Imagining America
Wed. Sept. 16 Prof. Sanchez-Eppler’s lecture: “Captivity Narratives”
Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682)
“Introduction,” 1-60 and “Related Documents” nos. 3, 5-9, 12 and 13.
Mon. Sept. 21 Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, pp. 63-112.
Wed. Sept. 23 Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, Parts 1 (1771) & 2 (1788), pp. 27-104.
Mon. Sept. 28 Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1784) selected readings
from Query IV, pages 35-40; Query V (partial), pages 40, 43-44; Query VI,
pages 45-110; Query VIII, pages 121-146; Query XIV, pages 169-189;
Query XVIII, pages 200-202; Query XIX pages 202-203. (E)
Wed. Sept. 30 Meet at the Mead Art Museum prepared for presentation and discussion of
mid nineteenth-century American landscape painting. Short writing
PAPER #1 DUE Fri. Oct. 2
Unit 2: Race, Expansion and the American Nation
Mon. Oct. 5 Allen Guttmann and Louis Filler (ed.), The Removal of the Cherokee Nation, pp. 14-21, 42-60, 69-78, 85-93 (E)
Wed. Oct. 7 Cherokee documents (E)
Wed. Oct. 14 Prof. Guttmann’s lecture: AWalt Whitman.@
Read: Walt Whitman, ASong of Myself@ (1855) sections 1-25.
Mon. Oct. 19 Walt Whitman, ASong of Myself@ sections 26-33 and 48-52.
Wed. Oct. 21 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845),
Mon. Oct. 26 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,
chapter 11 and “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” (1852)
(HHand out to students without Bedford ed.)
Wed. Oct. 28 Sui Sin Far, “Mrs. Spring Fragrance,” “In the Land of the Free,” and “The Wisdom of the New” from Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings (1912) and Arnold Genthe photographs (E).
PAPER #2 DUE Fri. Oct. 30
Unit 3: The Elusive Dream
Mon. Nov. 2 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925), pp. 1-111 (chapters 1-5).
Wed. Nov. 4 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, pp. 112-180 (chapters 7-9).
Mon. Nov. 9 Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), pp. 1-109 (chapters 1-11).
Wed. Nov.11 Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, pp. 110-193 (chapter 12-20).
*Sun. Nov. 15 Screening of Grapes of Wrath (1940, directed by John Ford after the
novel by John Steinbeck)
Mon. Nov. 16 Discussion of Grapes of Wrath
Wed. Nov. 18 Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949).
PAPER #3 DUE Fri. Nov. 20
Mon. Nov. 30 Thomas Hine, Populuxe, pp. 1-106.
*Tues. Dec. 1 Screening of West Side Story (1961, directed by Robert Wise and
Jerome Robbins; music by Leonard Bernstein; after the novel by Arthur
Wed. Dec. 2 Discussion of West Side Story.
Mon. Dec. 7 Philip Roth, The Human Stain (2000), pp. 1-210.
Wed. Dec. 9 Philip Roth, The Human Stain, pp. 202-361.
Mon. Dec. 14 Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007).
PAPER #4 DUE during exam week