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Lecture 4 - American Puritanism (I)

 American Literature I:
From the beginnings to the Civil War

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Reading(s) TranslationPost Lecture Notes/Q&A 
Bruce Kuklick, “Calvinism in America”; John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (A 147–58); Elizabeth Winthrop, “A City on a Hill”. Recommended: Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, “English Literature at the American Moment”  This lecture is available in approx. 40 languages on YouTube.

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Other Lectures in this Course

Professor Cyrus Patell 

  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts & Science, New York University
  • Associate Dean of Humanities, NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Bio & Publications

About the Course

This course is a survey of American literature and literary history, from the early colonial period to the eve of the Civil War. Our goal will be to acquire a grasp of the canon of American literature as it is typically conceived and the various logics behind its construction.

Key Topics

Topics to be considered include: the rise of “literature” as a discipline unto itself; the meaning of American individualism; the conflict between liberty and equality in American social thought; the mythology of American exceptionalism; the relation between history and cultural mythology; the dialectic of freedom and slavery in American rhetoric; the American obsession with race; the ideology of domesticity and its link to the sentimental; the aesthetics of American romance; the role of biography in literary criticism and historiography; the nature of the “American Renaissance”; what it means to say “NO in thunder!” and why so many American writers seem to say it; deliberative democracy and cosmopolitanism.



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