Upper-Division Seminar : Literature of Boston, 1630-1850

Course Number: ENGL 197
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 197
Quarter: Spring 2013
Instructor: Warner, William
Day(s): TR
Time: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Location: SH 2617
This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.


This course will investigate the relationship between, on the one hand, historically distinct forms of literature, and, on the other, the production of space into the lived places (streets, wharfs, buildings) of Boston between the founding and 1850. Among our chief lines of investigation will be: How do distinct spaces the aural and silent performances of literature mediate one another? Can we understand literature, whether written or spoken, as vibrant matter that thrives within the ecological niche provided by the early modern town, thriving 18th century port, or great the 19th century city? What sort of audience practices and experiences does this literature afford?

Our course readings will range from the literature of the founding of New England (John Winthrop, Increase Mather, Ann Bradstreet), to the contradictions between the religious and economic freedom the Puritans sought and the intolerance and punishments that they sometimes inflicted (Ann Hutchinson, Mary Dyer, Roger Williams and the Native American critique of the new settlements). The Native American rejection of the English settler invaders becomes violent with King Philips War, which kills one in every 10 English settler (Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative). We will take account of Boston’s emergence in the 18th century as a town of wealth, power and self-confidence, by studying Samuel Adam’s written and oral leadership of Boston’s vigorous opposition to British colonial rule, which culminates in the American Revolution. Finally the second part of the course will focus upon two classic rewritings of Boston as puritan settlement {Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter {1850}) and the Boston suburb of Concord as a place of nature (Henry David Thoreau’s Walden {1854}). Course assignments include quizzes on reading, one seminar presentation (with 2-page essay), and a final 7-page research paper.

Note: I am teaching a similar course, with some overlapping readings, English 165EM. Please do not register for both courses!