Every semester, I discuss how American authors sought to carve out their space in a early-nineteenth century world that countered European cultural and artistic influence. As we read throughout the semester, we encounter numerous authors who either explicitly or indirectly address the question, “How do we construct a distinctly American literature?” For me, this topic arises from the outset of the semester due to … Read More Chronicling the Rise of A Distinctly American Literature in the Survey Course
Last month, I published “Tumblr, Blogger, and Wikis in the Literature Classroom.” Today, I want to briefly discuss that post then share with you some of the products that students created in my literature survey courses. For the assignment, I gave each group (two students each) a term or historical event. Each group had to have three aspects to their presentation/Tumblr post.
When I asked students what they thought of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, most expressed frustration with Bartleby because they did not know his motivations. Truthfully, we never really know for sure what drives Bartleby to continue to tell his employer, “I would prefer not to.” However, I would argue, as some have done, that we should read Melville’s story, as we do Rebecca … Read More Herman Melville’s Bartleby and Civil Disobedience?
In Bits of Gossip (1904), Rebecca Harding Davis tells about a dinner she had with Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, and others. Of the dinner conversation, she writes, “You heard much sound philosophy and many sublime guesses at the eternal verities; in fact, never were the eternal verities so discussed and pawed over and turned inside out as they were about that time, in Boston, by … Read More Rebecca Harding Davis And Emerson’s Transcednentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson concludes his essay “Self-Reliance” (1841) with the following words: “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles” (660).About seven years later, Henry David Thoreau delivered his lecture “Resistant to Civil Govermnet,” which would eventually be renamed “Civil Disobedience” after his death. Thoreau’s lecture, essentially, elaborates on the closing lines of Emerson’s essay, … Read More Are We Just a Number? Henry David Thoreau and W.H. Auden