ENGL 5324: Topics in American Literary Genres Fake Memoirs and Factual Fictions in Early American Literature Spring 2011 Monday 6-8:50 PH 100






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Monday 6-8:50 PH 100

Dr. Desiree Henderson Office: University Hall 223 Email: dhenderson@uta.edu Phone: 817-272-3131

Office Hours: Mondays 4:00-5:30 or by appointment Course webpage: http://5324amlit.wordpress.com

All assignments, announcements, and updates to the course schedule will be posted on this site. Students should consult it frequently for the most up-to-date information on the course.

Course Description: In recent years, the literary world has been rocked by scandals regarding the fictional nature of purportedly true stories, such as the James Frey and Margaret Seltzer incidents. Historians have also been caught concocting the “facts” upon which their books were based. Yet, the blurry line between fact and fiction has been the source of discomfort, public outcry, and creative inspiration since the earliest periods of American literature.

This course investigates the role of “truthiness” in early American literature through a focus on works that have come under scrutiny for their truthfulness or accuracy. While we will engage with theoretical considerations of the boundary line between fiction and history, we will also explore why authenticity debates have tended to center around the literary production of women and African Americans. The course will address late eighteenth century works that claimed to be true stories – and why such claims were questioned, embraced, or defended by the original readers or by

contemporary critics. We will also explore the truth-debates that surround eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature about slavery – including slave narratives and fictional accounts. We will explore what is at stake for authors who seek to lay claim to accuracy or historicity in their representation of slavery, and how these claims impact the scholarly treatment of their writing.

Required Books:

Olaudiah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself. Norton Critical Editions. ISBN-10: 0393974944

Unca Eliza Winkfield, The Female American or, The Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield. Ed, Michelle Burnham. Broadview Press, ISBN-10: 1551112485

Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple. Norton Critical Edition. Ed., Marion Rust. ISBN 978-0-393-92538-8


William Wells Brown, Clotel, or the President’s Daughter. Modern Library Classics ISBN-10: 0679783237

Hannah Crafts, The Bondswoman’s Narrative. Ed., Henry Louis Gates. Grand Central Publishing ISBN-10: 0446690295

Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

• Identify the major debates around authenticity and the novel, autobiography and slave narrative genres

• Identify and explain the historical, literary, or social/political context(s) of assigned texts.

• Explain and analyze how context shapes the composition, reception and interpretation of texts.

• Critically analyze literature within a historical and cultural context. COURSE POLICIES

Grading Policy/Requirements: Attendance & Participation 10% Class Discussion Assignment 20% Essay 1 20%

Essay 2 50%

Descriptions of major assignments and examinations with due dates: Essay 1 (5 pages minimum) will be a focused analysis of assigned texts, with an emphasis upon close reading and is due either on Feb 21. Essay 2 (10 pages minimum) is a more extensive research essay, that addresses assigned texts and topics addressed within the semester, but also demonstrates original research on contemporary literary criticism; it is due on May 9.

Attendance & Participation: Attendance is mandatory. Excessive absences will result in an “F” for the course. Be sure to talk to Dr. Henderson if you must miss class. Participation is a very important part of every class, as well as a crucial element of the learning process. Graduate students are held to a high standard in this regard. You are expected to complete the assigned reading by the day of class and come prepared to discuss the issues and questions of the course.

Late Policy: The Class Discussion assignment may be rescheduled only if the absence is excused. Essays 1 and 2 will only be accepted late with evidence of medical or family emergency. Assignments will not be accepted over email unless specified in advance by the professor. Assignments submitted over email are not considered “turned in” until a hard copy has been submitted.

Electronic Gadgets Policy: TURN CELL PHONES OFF BEFORE CLASS. No

electronic items of any kind, including laptops, tape recorders, iPods, iPads, cell phones, etc. should be used during class unless you have received permission from the instructor.


Violating this rule can effect your Participation grade and may result in an Academic Dishonesty investigation.


Academic Dishonesty: It is the philosophy of The University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include

suspension or expulsion from the University. "Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or

materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, taking an examination for another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts." (Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter VI, Section 3, Subsection 3.2, Subdivision 3.22).

Americans With Disabilities Act: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 92-112 - The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens.

As a faculty member, I am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodations" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty of their need for accommodation and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels. Information regarding specific diagnostic criteria and policies for obtaining academic accommodations can be found at www.uta.edu/disability. Also, you may visit the Office for Students with Disabilities in room 102 of University Hall or call them at (817) 272-3364.

Drop Policy: Students may drop or swap (adding and dropping a class concurrently) classes through self-service in MyMav from the beginning of the registration period through the late registration period. After the late registration period, students must see their academic advisor to drop a class or withdraw. Undeclared students must see an advisor in the University Advising Center. Drops can continue through a point two-thirds of the way through the term or session. It is the student's responsibility to officially withdraw if they do not plan to attend after registering. Students will not be

automatically dropped for non-attendance. Repayment of certain types of financial aid administered through the University may be required as the result of dropping classes or withdrawing. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Electronic Communication Policy: The University of Texas at Arlington has adopted the University “MavMail” address as the sole official means of communication with students. MavMail is used to remind students of important deadlines, advertise events and activities, and permit the University to conduct official transactions exclusively by


electronic means. For example, important information concerning registration, financial aid, payment of bills, and graduation are now sent to students through the MavMail system. All students are assigned a MavMail account. Students are responsible for checking their MavMail regularly. Information about activating and using MavMail is available at http://www.uta.edu/oit/email/. There is no additional charge to students for using this account, and it remains active even after they graduate from UT Arlington. Student Support Services Available: The University of Texas at Arlington provides a variety of resources and programs designed to help students develop academic skills, deal with personal situations, and better understand concepts and information related to their courses. These resources include tutoring, major-based learning centers, developmental education, advising and mentoring, personal counseling, and federally funded programs. For individualized referrals to resources for any reason, students may contact the

Maverick Resource Hotline at 817-272-6107 or visit www.uta.edu/resources for more information.


ENGL 5324 Reading and Assignment Schedule Note:

LIB = Readings available through the UTA library in downloadable pdf form. It is the expectation these materials will be retrieved by each individual student. A complete bibliographical entry is provided. If you experience any difficulty, please let me know. MS = Readings available through the course MavSpace folder. See the course blog for complete instructions.

Students are expected to bring a copy of the assigned reading to class, whether in the form of printed hard copies or on a laptop or other electronic device.

I. Thinking Through Authenticity Debates Jan 17 MLK holiday – no class

Jan 24

Lepore, “Just the Fact’s Ma’am: Fake Memoirs, Factual Fictions, and the History of History” (online)

Rich, “A Family Tree of Literary Fakers” (online) Miller, “Entangled Self” (LIB)

II. Truthful Fictions Jan 31

Winkfield, The Female American, incl. introduction Davidson, Revolution and the Word, chapter 3 (MS) Feb 7

Rowson, Charlotte Temple, incl. introduction

Davidson, “Life and Times of Charlotte Temple” in Norton edition (241-261) and images (93-106)

Feb 14

Read one of the three 18th century responses to novel reading in Charlotte Temple, Norton edition (197-204)

Kerber, “We Own that Ladies Sometimes Read” in Norton edition (204-227) Brockden Brown, “The Difference between History and Romance” (MS)

Leonard Tennenhouse, “Is there an Early American Novel?” Novel 40.1-2 (Fall 06/Spring 07): 5-17. (LIB) [Note: read only pp. 9-16]

Jeffrey Richards, “The Adventures of Emmera, The Transatlantic Novel, and the Fiction of America.” Early American Literature 42.3 (2007): 495-527. (LIB) [Note: read only pp. 495-503]

III. Slavery’s Truths Feb 21

Essay 1 Due

Equiano, Interesting Narrative, Vol. I, incl. intro


Carretta, Preface to Equiano, the African (MS)

“Where was Olaudah Equiano Born? (And why does it matter?)” (online) http://www.brycchancarey.com/equiano/nativity.htm

Feb 28

Equiano, Interesting Narrative, Vol. II

Cathy Davidson. “Olaudah Equiano, Written By Himself.” Novel 40.1-2 (Fall 06/Spring 07): 20-51. (LIB)

Mar 7

Douglass, Narrative of the Life, incl. intro and framing materials Exchange between Thompson and Douglass in Norton edition (88-96) March 14-18 Spring Break

Mar 21

Ripley, “The Autobiographical Writings of Douglass” in Douglass, Norton edition (135-146)

Stepto, “Narration, Authentication, and Authorial Control” (146-157) IV. Slavery’s Fictions

Mar 28

Brown, Clotel (first half, through p.125)

[Note: You are not expected to read the William Wells Brown biography that opens the text, but start with the novel on p. 40. Skip the introduction as well.]

Ann duCille, “Where in the World is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History.” American Literary History 12.3 (Fall 2000): 443-62. (LIB)

April 1 Last Day to Drop Apr 4

Brown, Clotel (second half)

William Andrews. “The Novelization of Voice in Early African American Narrative.” PMLA 105.1 (1990): 23-34 (LIB)

Apr 11

Crafts, Bondswoman’s Narrative, incl. preface and intro; skim “Authentication Report” (304-34)

Apr 18

Crafts, Bondswoman’s Narrative (cont.) Rohrbach, “A Silent Unobtrusive Way” (MS)


Apr 25

Melville, “Benito Cereno” (MS) Additional reading TBA

May 2 TBA





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