This course provides a survey of North American literatures, presenting classic novels, plays, and poems. The word “classics” in the title of this lecture indicates the stature and prominence these works have achieved. Illuminating a series of influential works, we will try to grasp the intellectual power (emotional and artistic) of these famous works and the cultural work (including their social and political dimensions) they perform. At the same time, we will also look into the relations of classics and the processes of canon formation. Importantly, we will see that there are different traditions of “classics” and that various bodies of literature have their own classics. Our survey of U.S. American and Canadian literatures then includes classics of African American literature, U.S. Latinx literature, feminist literature, Gay and Lesbian literature, showing that each body of literature has its own definitions of what constitutes a classic.
There will be a course reader, which will be made available on Moodle.