This course will introduce you to the tremendous range and energy of Anglo-American writing of the colonial and national periods. We'll begin in 1590, during the earliest years of English exploration and settlement in North America, with an extravagant narrative of travel and enterprise by Thomas Harriot, who thrilled imaginations and tempted pocketbooks by introducing a large European audience to the wonders of what he called "the new found land of Virginia." The really tremendous news—the news that not only becomes history but also helps shape history through its extextualization in many genres and forms—was that throughout the Atlantic continents (Europe, Africa, and the Americas) people and cultures were on the move to an unprecedented degree and in unprecedented ways. Writers living in and writing about British North America kept pace with them, tracking movements both real and imaginary, both voluntary and coerced. These authors—from Hariot in the 16th century, to John Winthrop, Aphra Behn, and Mary Rowlandson in the 17th, to Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Olaudah Equiano in the 18th, to Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson in the 19th—helped generate and convey an unprecedented traffic in new ideas and in new metaphors for living in the present and remembering the past amidst rapid global change.
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  • ENGL043401