lecture notes



Thanks for showing up and hope you and yours are coping well enough with this enormous disaster.

Assume you're not looking to me for basic information about who to contact, but can do

If semester starts going from bad to worse for you, please communicate whenever you can and together we can try to keep everyone going through December.

Made some adjustments to the course requirements so that we can do our work without adding to misery

cut out a class before midterm (can show)

removed outside research requirement


1st classes--profs want grand preview, get big ideas up front, prepare students for later reinforcement

What students get: sense of personalities, styles, expectations (how much work, what possible pleasures)

not try to do too much, and if it starts to feel that way, I'll refocus.




first historical period where readers feel connected, life like ours, continuity with present

names are somewhat familiar, or they will be the longer you study literature: Poe, Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson

Generation after the Founders, e.g. Hamilton, George Washington, other early presidents

Declaration, Constitution > Lincoln, 13th-15th amendments

Maps of North America



syllabus is never finished but continues to be improved or developed--no big changes without warning

instructor has taught course at least a dozen times

doctoral training and dissertation in American Renaissance


course evolves with changing scholarship, changing students, changing times, changing minds




Classroom style

balance instructor's ancient knowledge with students' developing insights and fresh apps


instructor's ancient knowledge:

brief lectures and presentations

terms, objectives, themes linked through website


students' developing insights and fresh applications:

Discussion questions

Model Assignments

Student presentations & student-led discussions

  • Reading Assignment

  • Web Review