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Escaping America: US Literature and Modern Criticism

Professor Bryce Traister
Winter Half Course.

From the earliest narratives of exploration and religious settlement, colonial English and American writers have theorized establishing and escaping from the ideals and practices associated with the nation. This course will consider articulations of the nation’s disavowal between 1630 and 1900. In doing so, we will analyze the disciplinary status of “Americanness” in critical, historical, and pedagogical frameworks, reading texts drawn from the classical tradition of American literary criticism, the “New American Studies” phase of the late 1990s, and from the contemporary “transnational” perspective. Alongside our analysis of this geneaology of American studies, we will read literary texts useful not least for their divided commitments to imagining both the ideal American nation, as well as its necessary alternatives.

View the syllabus here: English 9090B.

Department of English - The University of Western Ontario
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