ENG 253 : American Literature to 1865

Introduces the literature of the land which is now the United States from before European contact through the mid-nineteenth century. Revolves around written manifestations of the various interests, preoccupations, and experiences of the peoples creating and recreating American culture. Considers various literary forms, canonized (such as novel, narrative poem), popular (such as the serialized tale, verse) and unpublished (the jeremiad, Native American oratory, the slave narrative, diary).


Equivalent placement test scores also accepted.

Course Outcomes

Upon successful students should be able to:

  • Identify and discuss strengths, limitations, and cultural assumptions of various literary forms practiced in America through the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Identify and discuss the roles which gender, race, age, class, ethnicity, wealth, poverty, and geography have played in creating American literature.
  • Identify and discuss the issues, conflicts, preoccupations, and themes of the various literatures of America.
  • Use literary texts to examine the historical, cultural, and rhetorical contexts in which they were written
  • Identify and discuss aesthetic aspects of American literature, canonized (such as plot, characterization, and stanza forms), popular (parable structure, call and response, floral and architectural coding systems), and unpublished (mnemonics or oral literature, characteristics of military and women’s journals and letters).
  • Write clear, focused, coherent essays about literature for an academic audience, using standard English conventions of grammar and style.


Additional Information

This course fulfills the following GE requirements: Arts and Letters/AAOT, Arts and Letters/AS, Arts and Letters/AAS, Arts and Letters/AGS, Arts and Letters/ASOT-B.

Course Adoption Date

Course Revision Date





Grading Options

Letter Grades


Audit Available