The American Novel
And The Grand Experiments in Our Country
“For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us,” declared John Winthrop as he travelled with his followers to Massachusetts in 1630. He marked the beginning of what was expected to be a grand experiment. Winthrop rightly anticipated that the colonial endeavors unfolding in North America presented a chance for self-determination, collective identity, and industriousness. And yet, he could not have conceived of the legacy of that experiment or the challenges that would come with it. In this study group, we will explore how diverse writers represented, challenged, and helped to create the dominant cultural narratives that remain influential in our nation today. We will read (in the following order): Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland, Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, Frank Norris’s McTeague, and John Niehardt’s Black Elk Speaks. Instructor Emelia Abbe-Robertson will lead classes on Fridays from February 7 through March 20.
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