Course Description

African American, American Indian, and American women writers have long used literature to speak out against racism, sexism, and other social inequalities in the United States. In this class we will read nineteenth-century authors including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Handsome Lake (Seneca), and Margaret Fuller to see how literature both reflects and influences the political realities of the nation.

The purpose of this course is to study how these earlier writers used literature to define freedom, justice, and equality and to promote the ideals of democracy. While this is a course that will focus on the nineteenth century, you might see resonances with present day social movements such as Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Pipeline Protests, and the Women’s March on Washington.

Sample Reading List

Apess, William. (Pequot), “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man,” (1833).

Child, Lydia Maria. “The Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act,” (1850).

Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, (1852).

Grimke, Angelina. An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, (1836).

Hamilton, Alexander. Excerpt from Farmer Refuted, (1775).

Handsome Lake (Seneca). “How America Was Discovered,” (c. 1799).

Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of Independence (1776) from The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, (1821).

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense, (1776).

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric, (2014).

Thoreau, Henry David. Resistance to Civil Government, (1849).

Truth, Sojourner. “Ain’t I a Woman?”, (1851).