Category: thomas jefferson

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The “True” American History: Part II

The White House Conference on American History, as I pointed out in my last post, continued the narrative that God divinely sanctioned America and its founding. This narrative presents the Founding Fathers as devoutly Christian and purposefully focused on making American a “Christian” nation; however, that is not necessarily the case, and even if its is, as Lillian Smith points out in “The White … Read More The “True” American History: Part II

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The “True” American History?: Part I

Speaking at the White House Conference on American History, Trump stated, “On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization.” In this statement, and throughout the entire event, speakers railed against the the destruction of the “true” history of America’s founding and growth. They spoke … Read More The “True” American History?: Part I

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“Rosa” and The Formation of an American Literature

At first, teaching Rosa, or American Genius and Education (1810) in an early American literature survey course seemed somewhat daunting. I frame my courses around conversations, typically beginning with David Walker and Thomas Jefferson then moving around through time and region back and forth from the colonial to the early nineteenth century. I do this to show students that even though these texts appear … Read More “Rosa” and The Formation of an American Literature

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African American Literature and the American Dream Syllabus

Whenever I teach an American literature survey course, the topic of the American Dream inevitably comes up. Typically, I ask students to define this mythological term and they reply with the standard answer, “The American Dream means happiness and success.” I elaborate upon this response by pointing them back, first to the Declaration of Independence, then to other texts. The Declaration states that “life, … Read More African American Literature and the American Dream Syllabus

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Active Learning in the Literature Classroom

Over the past few semesters, I began my early American literature course with Thomas Jefferson. Starting with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Notes from the State of Virginia, and letter to Benjamin Banneker was important considering the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. Typically, I start the first class with David Walker then back track to Jefferson, but after reading Ibram X. Kendi’s “What would Jefferson … Read More Active Learning in the Literature Classroom