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

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