Seminar: American Literature


This course examines two extraordinary, contemporaneous early American women poets: Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695). Through their lives and work, we explore contrasting cultures of colonialism in early America. Both were religious, both were brilliant, and both wrote into and out of imperial experiences in very different settings (New England and New Spain). Anne Bradstreet published the first American book of poetry in English (1650), and she has been a mainstay of American literature ever since. The class will focus on studies of gender and religion in her writings, understanding her work more fully with studies of puritanism and English settler colonialism. For broader context and understanding of colonial writings, the course moves from Anne Bradstreet to the life and writings of the Mexican poet, intellectual, and cloistered nun, Sor Juana. We will study her poetry, her dramatic works, as well as her autobiographical and other writings. Special emphasis will be given to the colonial society in which she lived and the impact it had on her intellectual production. We will examine seventeenth-century Mexican convent culture and its role within the Church hierarchy as well as how her gender inflected her writing, using this as a backdrop from which to study Sor Juana's polemical relationship with the ecclesiastical authorities. Together, the course will introduce broader understandings of colonialism through the comparison of these two poets, their works, and the very different early American contexts that gave shape to their lives and writings.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Seminar: American Literature
INSTRUCTOR: Kirk, Van Engen
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