American Literature, From the Beginnings to the Civil War: A Free Online Course from NYU

From Cyrus Patell, pro­fes­sor Eng­lish at NYU, comes Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, From the Begin­nings to the Civ­il War. The 26 lec­ture course is avail­able on YouTube (all stream­able above) and iTunes. Among oth­er things, the course cov­ers Her­man Melville’s Moby Dick, Tran­scen­den­tal­ism, Amer­i­can Goth­ic, Hawthorne and more.

The course descrip­tion reads as fol­lows:

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. 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.

Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, From the Begin­nings to the Civ­il War has been added to our list of Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Amer­i­can Nov­el Since 1945: A Free Yale Course on Nov­els by Nabokov, Ker­ouac, Mor­ri­son, Pyn­chon & More

Hear Moby Dick Read in Its Entire­ty by Til­da Swin­ton, Stephen Fry, John Waters & Oth­ers

An Illus­tra­tion of Every Page of Her­man Melville’s Moby Dick

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.