Aml 2070: Survey of American Literature

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AML 2070: Survey of American Literature
Section: 6101 Meets: MWF 6 in FLI 111

Instructor: Angela Walther E-mail Address:

Office: TUR 4411 Office Hours: W period 7 or by appointment
Course Description:

This course is designed to introduce students to the topics, genres, and authors of American literature with a special focus on the writings of women authors and popular female characters in male-authored texts. As the title suggests, we will consider how American literature works to “build” an authentic American experience and its values. American women authors, in all their diversity, serve as literary architects who build upon and reconstruct popular ideas of how and in what ways the American nation’s culture and priorities should be articulated. We will read both male and female American authors to observe how these texts contribute to an emerging American nationalism and culture, specifically attending to women’s role in this nation-building project. Topics such as European/colonial women’s contact with natives, slaves and slavery, religion and sexuality, and American and foreignness will help us analyze how American women engage issues of gender and identity alongside American principles of nationhood and patriotism (liberty, democracy, justice, etc.). Our own perspectives will be important in discussing how the legacy of these women impact our thoughts of America today in our own time and place.

This course can satisfy the UF General Education requirement for Composition or Humanities, and it also contributes 6000 words toward fulfillment of the UF requirement for writing.
Required Texts:

  • The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 8th Ed. Volume 2-Two Volume Set. 2012. ISBN: 0393918882

  • Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books, 2006. ISBN: 1879960850

  • (Recommended) Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. Penguin Classics, 2003. ISBN: 0141439904. Also on

  • (Recommended) Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette. Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0195042395. Also on

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gain competency in identifying major literary movements, topics, and genres in American literature.

  2. Have a strong comprehension of the early American literary canon from the 16th to 20th centuries.

  3. Develop analytical arguments about literature and improve written and oral communication skills.

Assignments and Grading Scale:

Blogs: 4 entries in total, 500 words each, 15% of your grade (100 pts)

These responses should show that you have read the works assigned and also critically analyzed them. In each response, you will cultivate an argument that responds to the prompt I give in class/post online. You will then be required to read two other responses the following week and reply with a 200-word response. Five hundred and two hundred words are short spaces to make an argument and a rebuttal, so have a critical eye toward concision and clarity. Take these responses as experiments toward the larger assignments--try different analyses out, play with various texts, and see what you like writing about best. These will all be turned in as posts on Sakai and are due before class.

Close Reading Assignment: 750 words, 15% (150 pts)

For this assignment you will read a selection of Sarah Kemble Knight’s Journey from Boston to New York, and you will analyze the text using our class analysis and information of Rowlandson to guide you. While you will not necessarily compare Rowlandson and Knight, you will argue how Knight’s narrative changes/adds/enhances our perception of women in colonial America. For example, you might analyze how she describes the wilderness or colonial peoples, or you might analyze how her narration speaks to a different or similar audience as Rowlandson. This assignment asks you to consider how we, as modern readers, might reach a tenable conclusion about colonial women’s role in shaping or upsetting this new American society.

Synthesis Analysis Paper: 1,500 words, 20% (200 pts)

Compare and analyze either (1) two of the works we have read in class or (2) one of the works we have read in class with a related work read outside of this class. I encourage you to think outside the box and look at your other areas of interest or hobbies for inspiration (i.e. other literature, film, television, visual art, or pop culture), but if you choose a text from off the syllabus, I must approve it. This is not a simple compare/contrast essay. Instead of placing two texts in opposing columns and discussing their similarities and differences from one another, you must address both texts separately then form an argument that can only arise from putting these two texts side by side. This is a tricky assignment that addresses an important critical skill, so I suggest meeting with me to discuss topics and outlining procedures.

Critical Analysis Paper: 2,000 words, 20% (250 pts)

Your final research paper must relate to the course material in some substantial way, but other than that it is an open topic. I would suggest perhaps choosing an American contemporary or pop cultural text and analyzing it according to our class discussions and information. For example, how might Stephanie Myer’s Twilight evolve from the American Gothic genre discussed in Unit 3? Or, how might Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games speak to woman’s responsibility for shaping political, economic, and social spaces? These are just suggestions, and I encourage you to pull from your own interests; however, for this paper, you are expected to exhibit your skills in the areas of rhetoric, analysis, research and the incorporation of secondary-source criticism, which we will discuss later in the course. The purpose of this project is to give you a chance to showcase all that you have learned throughout the semester. Parroting in-class discussion or repetition through the whole paper is unacceptable.

Reading Quizzes: 15% (150 pts)

You have 10 reading quizzes throughout the semester to determine your attention to the readings. These quizzes will be short answer or multiple choice and they are to be completed at random in class. It is important that you take time in your reading to understand issues concerning historical context, tone, theme, format, and character, as well as plot. I will never ask questions that expect you to read my mind and figure out what interpretation I like best. If you read the text closely and attentively, these should all be easy A’s.

Participation: 15% (150 pts)

Reading the texts and doing the assignments really only gets you half way there in this class. I expect active class discussion and participation on a daily basis. If you read the texts, but don’t participate in class (or vice versa), then your work in general will suffer because of it. Our classroom acts as a safe environment where you can air your own opinions and consider those presented by your classmates, so take advantage of this setup and see how something you’re thinking of writing a paper on, for instance, flies in general discussion. In essence, active participation helps your personal work, and of course gets you the full 15%. This part is not necessarily marked on the syllabus and is left to my discretion; however, if I feel your participation is suffering, I will notify you.

Grading Scale























































General Classroom Policies:


The successful completion of this course depends on your faithful attendance. You are allowed three absences without any direct effect on your grade. Your final grade will drop by a letter with each subsequent absence after your first three. If you reach six absences, you will automatically fail the course.

Absences involving university-sponsored events, such as athletics and band, and religious holidays are excused, but you must notify me of your absence prior to the date that will be missed. Also, tardiness will not be tolerated. Two tardies equal one absence.

This course abides by the attendance policies set forth by the University of Florida at

Cell phones and other assorted media

Please silence cell phones before you come into class. I also silence mine before coming into the classroom, so I expect the same courtesy from all of you. If you are using a laptop, it should be used only for taking notes. If I find anyone on Facebook or using his/her cell phone (texting under the desk), then I will automatically count you absent for the day without notifying you until after the class.


Plagiarism is a serious violation of the Student Honor Code. The Honor Code prohibits plagiarism and defines it as follows:


Plagiarism. A student shall not represent as the student’s own work all or any portion of the work of another. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to:


1. Quoting oral or written materials including but not limited to those found on the internet, whether published or unpublished, without proper attribution.

2. Submitting a document or assignment which in whole or in part is identical or substantially identical to a document or assignment not authored by the student.

                                                     (University of Florida, Student Honor Code, 8 July 2011)


University of Florida students are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the entire Student Honor Code.


All the work submitted on Sakai will be passed through, a website that compares your paper to other papers on the internet, any published work, and the internet itself. If you plagiarize, you will be caught, which could result in an automatic E in the paper, the course, or a disciplinary measure from the university, depending upon the gravity and frequency of the matter.


Classroom Behavior

Please keep in mind that students come from diverse cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the texts we will discuss and write about engage controversial topics and opinions.  Diversified student backgrounds combined with provocative texts require that you demonstrate respect for ideas that may differ from your own. In other words, any rude, coarse, or offensive remarks based upon race, gender, or sexual identity will not be tolerated. Disrespectful behavior will result in dismissal, and accordingly absence, from the class.


In-Class Work

Students will be expected to work in small groups and participate in group discussions, writing workshops, and other in-class activities. Students must be present for all in-class activities to receive credit for them. In-class work cannot be made up. In general, students are expected to contribute constructively to each class session. 


Paper Maintenance Responsibilities

Students are responsible for maintaining duplicate copies of all work submitted in this course and retaining all returned, graded work until the semester is over.  Should the need arise for a resubmission of papers or a review of graded papers, it is the student’s responsibility to have and to make available this material.

Writing Workshops / Peer Reviews

Writing workshops will be conducted at least one class period before each essay assignment is due. Workshops will involve a lesson or activity as well as peer review. You are responsible for bringing a copy of your draft to class – it must be at least half of the word count that the final assignment requires (the more you have written, the better feedback you can receive). Treat your peers’ feedback as you would my own – with respect and serious consideration to how you can apply it to your work. Offer your own critiques in the same fashion.

Mode of Submission

All papers must be formatted according to MLA style in 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced. The top left-hand corner of the first page of any assignment should include your name, the course number, my name, and the date. Make certain to staple your essay and print it in black ink.

Assignments must be handed in as a paper copy in class and submitted via Sakai as an .rtf, .doc or .docx file.

Points will be subtracted for documents that do not meet professional standards. Save and back up all of your projects regularly; “my computer crashed” or “my printer broke” are not valid excuses.

Note: Free printing is available at the computer lab in the Reitz Union!
Sexual Harassment

UF provides an educational and working environment that is free from sex discrimination and sexual harassment for its students, staff, and faculty. For more about UF policies regarding harassment, see:

Students with Disabilities

The Disability Resource Center in the Dean of Students Office provides information and support regarding accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information, see:

The office will provide you with appropriate documentation, and you must then provide this documentation to me when requesting accommodation. Please schedule a meeting with me to discuss any accommodations within the first week of classes.
Course Evaluations

Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on

10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at
Final Grade Appeals

In 1000- and 2000- level courses, students may appeal a final grade by filling out a form available from Carla Blount, Program Assistant in the English Department. Grade appeals may result in a higher, unchanged, or lower final grade.

Statement of Composition (C) and Humanities (H) credit:

This course can satisfy the UF General Education requirement for Composition or Humanities. For more information see:

Statement of Writing Requirement:

This course can provide 6000 words toward fulfillment of the UF requirement for writing. For more information, see:

Note: To receive writing credit, you must receive a grade of C (2.0) or higher AND satisfactory completion of the writing component of 6000 words; this means that you must complete every assignment.

Unit 1: Captivating Colonial Women (17th Century)
Week One: January 7-9 (Drop/Add Week)
W – Course Introduction
F – Introduction to 17th century America; read short introduction to “Mary Rowlandson”
Week Two: January 12-16
M – Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, removes 1-15.
W – Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, removes 16-20.
F – Annette Kolodny’s “From Captivity to Accommodation, 1630-1833” in The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860 On Sakai. Begin Reading Sarah Kemble Knight’s Journey from Boston to New York.

Week Three: January 19-23
W –Cotton Mather’s “A Notable Exploit: Dux Faemina Facti”; (excerpts from) Jonathan Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North America; John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Mother’s Revenge”; Henry David Thoreau’s “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”
F – Writing Workshop; Reading Response Blog 1 Due

Week Four: January 26-30

M – Ann Bradstreet’s “The Prologue”, “In Honor of That High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth of Happy Memory”, “Contemplations”, “The Author to Her Book”, “To My Dear and Loving Husband”; Ann Stanford’s “Anne Bradstreet: Dogmatist and Rebel”

W – Jean Marie Lute’s “Negotiating Theology and Gynecology: Anne Bradstreet’s Representations of the Female Body” on Sakai.
F – Peer Review Assignment 1
Unit 2: Revolutionary Women (18th century)

Week Five: February 2-6
M –Close Reading Assignment #1 Due
W – Judith Sargent Murray “The History of Miss Wellwood” from The Gleaner Chapter XI.
F – Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette, letters 1-10

Week Six: February 9-13
M – Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette, letters 11-25
W – Writing Workshop; Reading Response 2 Due
F – Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette, letters 25-74

Week Seven: February 16-20
M – Phillis Wheatley’s “On Being Brought from Africa to America”, “A Hymn to the Morning”, “On Virtue”; Mary McAleer Balkun’s “Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology” on Sakai
W – Miscellaneous
F – Introduction to K. White; Narrative of the Life, Occurrences, Vicissitudes and Present Situation of K. White, to Chapter III on Sakai.
Week Eight: February 23-27
M – K. White; Narrative of the Life, Occurrences, Vicissitudes and Present Situation of K. White, Chapter III to end on Sakai.
W – Excerpt from “Printed for the Authoress: K. White and Elizabeth Fisher” from The Other Daughters of the Revolution on Sakai.
F – Peer Review
Week Nine: March 2-6
Unit 3: American Gothic Women (19th Century)
Week Ten: March 9-13
M –Synthesis Essay Assignment #2 Due
W – Edgar Alan Poe’s “Annabell Lee” and “A Valentine”; Emily Dickenson’s “I Like a Look of Agony”, “Tis So Appalling—it Exhilarates”, “They Shut Me Up in Prose”, “If I May Have It When It’s Dead”; Excerpt from Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s Madwoman in the Attic (8 pages) on Sakai.
F – Writing Workshop
Week Eleven: March 16-20
M – Charlotte Perkin’s Gilman “The Yellow Wallpaper: Greg Johnson’s “Gilman’s Gothic Allegory: Rage and Redemption in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” on Sakai.
W – Henry James’s Turn of the Screw Chapters 1-5
F – Henry James’s Turn of the Screw Chapters 6-12
Week Twelve: March 23-27
M – Henry James’s Turn of the Screw Chapter 13-24
W – Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”
F – Conferences in my office; Reading Response 3 Due
Unit 4: New Women/New America? (20th Century)

Week Thirteen: March 30-April 3
M – Susan Glaspell’s Triffles
W – Eudora Welty’s “Petrified Man”
F – Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” and “Mirror”
Week Fourteen: April 6-10
M – Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
W – Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”
F – Writing Workshop

Week Fifteen: April 13-17
M – Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
W – Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
F – Conferences in my office; Reading Response 4 Due
Week Sixteen: April 20-24
M – Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
W – Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
F- Reading Day
*** Critical Analysis Essay due by April 29th at Midnight ***

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