Conversations in American Literature sparks critical thinking through conversations that let students explore how issues and texts from the past continue to impact the present.
Table of Contents
1 | An Introduction to Rhetoric2 | Close Reading3 | Analyzing Argument4 | Synthesizing Sources5 | A Meeting of Old and New Worlds – Beginnings to 1750Native American Origin StoriesNative American Trickster StoriesThe Iroquois Constitution (c. 1390-1500) TalkBack N. Scott Momaday, The Becoming of the Native (1993)Cabeza de Vaca, from The Relation of Cabeza de Vaca (1542)Richard Frethorne, Letter to Father and Mother (1623)Anne Bradstreet, The Prologue (1650) The Author to Her Book (1678) TalkBack Eavan Boland, Becoming Anne Bradstreet (2012)Anonymous, Mrs. Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary (painting, c. 1671) Edward Taylor, Huswifery (c. 1680)Mary Rowlandson, from A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682) TalkBack Louise Erdrich, Captivity (2003) Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World (1693) John Hale, A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft (1702)CONVERSATION | The American Jeremiad John Winthrop, from A Modell of Christian Charity (1630) Jonathan Edwards, from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741) Frederick Douglass, from What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July? (1852) Robert F. Kennedy, Time of Shame and Sorrow (1968) Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address (1989) Stephen H. Webb, How Soccer is Ruining America: A Jeremiad (2009) American Lung Association, Sandwich. Snack. Arsenic. (advertisement, 2011) Barack Obama, Tucson Memorial Speech (2011)CONVERSATION | The Columbus Day Controversy Christopher Columbus, from Journal of the First Voyage to America (1492) King Ferdinand, The Requerimiento (1513) John Vanderlyn, Landing of Columbus (painting, 1842) Walt Whitman, Prayer of Columbus (1871) Jack Weatherford, Examining the Reputation of Christopher Columbus (1989) Michael S. Berliner, The Christopher Columbus Controversy (1991) National Public Radio, Wilma Mankiller Reflects on Columbus Day (2008) William J. Connell, What Columbus Day Really Means (2010) Laurence Bergreen, from Columbus, The Four Voyages (2011)CONVERSATION | Pocahontas: The Woman, the Movie, the Myth Daniel Richter, Living with Europeans (2002) Captain John Smith, Letter to Queen Anne of Great Britain (1616) Simon van de Passe, Matoaka als Rebecca (woodcut, 1616) John Gadsby Chapman, The Baptism of Pocahontas (painting, 1839) George P. Morris, The Chieftain’s Daughter (1840) Howard Chandler Christy, Pocahontas (painting, 1911) Neil Young, Pocahontas (1975) Paula Gunn Allen, Pocahontas to Her English Husband, John Rolfe (1988) Gary Edgarton and Kathy Merlock Jackson, Redesigning Pocahontas (1996) Paula Gunn Allen, from Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat (2003)Grammar as Rhetoric and Style – Subordination in the Complex SentenceSuggestions for Writing Chapter 6 | A New Republic – 1750-1830Benjamin Franklin, The Speech of Miss Polly Baker (1747) from Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791) TalkBack D. H. Lawrence, from Benjamin Franklin (1923)Benjamin West, William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians (painting, 1771) Paul Revere, The able doctor, or America swallowing the bitter draught (cartoon, 1774)Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death (1775) Speech to the Virginia ConventionThomas Paine, from Common Sense (1776) from The Crisis, I (1776) from The Final Crisis (1783) from The Age of Reason (1794)Abigail Adams and John Adams, Letters (1776) Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence (1776) TalkBacks Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments (1848) Ho Chi Minh, Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945) Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer (1782)Alexander Hamilton, from The Federalist No. 1 (1787)James Madison, from The Federalist No. 10 (1787)Preamble to the United States Constitution and The Bill of Rights (1789) TalkBack Sanford Levinson, Our Imbecilic Constitution and Letters to the Editor (2012)Judith Sargent Murray, from On the Equality of the Sexes (1790) TalkBack H. L. Mencken, from The Feminine Mind (1918)Benjamin Banneker & Thomas Jefferson, Letters (1791) Chief Tecumseh, Address to Governor William Henry Harrison (1810)Francis Scott Key, The Star Spangled Banner (1814) Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle (1819)CONVERSATION | The Myth of George Washington George Washington, Letter to Col. Nicola (1782) George Washington, from Farewell Address (1796) Gilbert Stuart, Landsdowne Portrait (painting, 1796) Mason Locke Weems, from A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits of General George Washington (1809) Horatio Greenough, George Washington (statue, 1840) Emmanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware (painting, 1851) Jane Addams, Tribute to George Washington (1903) Frank O’Hara, On Seeing Larry Rivers’ Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art (1955) Jill Lepore, from His Highness (2010) Dodge Motor Company, This Is What You Buy because You Can’t Buy a Bald Eagle (advertisement, 2010) Edward G. Lengel, from Inventing George Washington (2011)CONVERSATION | Religious Tolerance Kenneth C. Davis, America's True History of Religious Tolerance (2010) James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785) Thomas Jefferson, The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786) George Washington, Letter to the Touro Synagogue (1790) Red Jacket, Defense of Native American Religion (1805) John F. Kennedy, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association (1960) Jeff Jacoby, The Role of Religion in Government: Invoking Jesus at the Inauguration (2001) Diane L. Eck, from Working It Out: The Workplace and Religious Practice (2001) Gary Tramontina, Ten Commandments Courthouse Controversy (photos, 2003) Michael Bloomberg, Speech on the NYC Mosque (2010) John Fea, from Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? (2011)CONVERSATION | The Influence of Phillis Wheatley Phillis Wheatley On Being Brought from Africa to America (1773) To S.M., A Young African Painter, On Seeing his Works (1773) To the University of Cambridge, in New-England (1773) To His Excellency George Washington (1775) Letter to Reverend Samson Occam June Jordan, from The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America (2002) Henry Louis Gates, Mr. Jefferson and the Trials of Phillis Wheatley (2002) Kevin Young, Homage to Phillis Wheatley (2007)Grammar as Rhetoric and Style – AppositivesSuggestions for Writing Chapter 7 | America in Conflict – 1830 -1865 William Cullen Bryant, Thanatopsis (1817) To Cole, the Painter, Departing for Europe (1829)Thomas Cole, View from Mt. Holyoke (painting, 1836)Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits (painting, 1849) Nathaniel Hawthorne, My Kinsman, Major Molineaux (1831) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Psalm of Life (1838) Nature (1842) Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841) TalkBack Benjamin Anastas, The Foul Reign of Emerson’s ‘Self-Reliance’ (2011)Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)Frederick Douglass, from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman? (1851)Harriet Beecher Stowe, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)Illustrated London News, A Slave Auction in Virginia (woodcut, 1861)Traditional, NoMore Auction Block for Me (c. 1860s)Herman Melville, Loomings (1851) Shiloh (1862)Chief Seattle, Message to President Franklin Pierce (1854) TalkBack Dr. Rayna Green, A Modest Proposal: The Museum of the Plains White Person (1981)Walt Whitman, There Was a Child Went Forth (1855) O Captain! My Captain! (1865) Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (1867) TalkBack Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California (1955)Jefferson Davis, Inaugural Address (1861)Alfred Green, Philadelphia Speech (1861)The Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments, Come and Join Us Brothers (advertisement, 1863)Harriet Jacobs, From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)Alexander Gardner, Confederate Dead Before the Dunker Church (photograph, 1862)Timothy O’Sullivan, Federal Dead on the Field of Battle of the First Day at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (photograph, 1863) TalkBack William Stafford, At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border (1977)CONVERSATION | Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln Letter to Albert G. Hodges (1864) The Emancipation Proclamation (1863) The Gettysburg Address (1865) The Second Inaugural Address (1865) Henry McNeal Turner, On the Anniversary of Emancipation (1866) Thomas Ball, Emancipation Memorial (monument, 1876) Frederick Douglass, The Freedman’s Monument to Abraham Lincoln (1876) Mario Cuomo, Abraham Lincoln and Our "Unfinished Work" (1986) Gary Wills, from Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992) James McPherson, Who Freed the Slaves? (1996) Ira Berlin, Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning (1997)CONVERSATION | John Brown: Patriot or Terrorist? John Brown, Last Speech (1859) Last Letter to His Family (1859) Frances Ellen Watkins, To John Brown (1859) Henry David Thoreau, from A Plea for Captain John Brown (1859) Thomas Hovenden, The Last Moments of John Brown (painting, c. 1882) Ken Chowder, The Father of American Terrorism (2000) Robert E. McGlone, The ‘Madness’ of John Brown (2009) David Reynolds, Freedom’s Martyr (2009) Tony Horowitz, The 9/11 of 1859 (2009)CONVERSATION | The Legacy of Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau, from Walden (1854) E.B. White, Walden (1939) Annie Dillard, Living Like Weasels (1982) E. O. Wilson, Letter to Thoreau (2003) Sue Monk Kidd, Doing Nothing (2008) Robert Sullivan, from The Thoreau You Don’t Know (2009) William Powers, The Walden Zone (2010) Crispin Sartwell, My Walden, My Walmart (2012) Tracy Fullerton, Grant Proposal for Walden, a Game (2012)Grammar as Rhetoric and Style – Cumulative, Periodic, and Inverted SentencesSuggestions for Writing Chapter 8 | Reconstructing America – 1865-1913Jourdan Anderson, To My Old Master (1865) Winslow Homer, The Veteran in a New Field (1865) TalkBack Natasha Trethewey, Again, the Fields (2007)Emily Dickinson, Hope is the Thing with Feathers (c. 1861) The Soul selects her own Society (c. 1862) After great pain, a formal feeling comes (c. 1862) I Heard a Fly buzz – when I died (c. 1862) My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – (c. 1863) TalkBack Hans Ostrom, Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven (1989)Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Does Not Such a Meeting Make Amends?(cartoon, 1869)Red Cloud, Speech on Indian Rights (1870) Thomas Nast, Worse than Slavery (cartoon, 1874)Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1876) Sarah Orne Jewett, The White Heron (1886) Albert Bierstadt, The Last of the Buffalo (painting, 1888)Andrew Carnegie, from The Gospel of Wealth (1889) Jacob Riis, The Mixed Crowd (1890)Ambrose Bierce, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1890)Ida Wells-Barnet, from Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892)Jane Addams, The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements (1892)Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893)Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour (1894) Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Compromise Speech (1895)Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask (1896) Douglass (1903) TalkBack Robert Hayden, Frederick Douglass (1962)Stephen Crane, The Open Boat (1897)E.A. Robinson, Richard Cory (1897) Miniver Cheevy (1910)Katharine Lee Bates, America the Beautiful (1899) Zitkala-Sa, The School Days of an Indian Girl (1900)James Weldon Johnson, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing (1900)W.E.B. DuBois, The Talented Tenth (1903) Willa Cather, The Sculptor’s Funeral (1905)Upton Sinclair, from The Jungle (1906) TalkBack Eric Schlosser, from Fast Food Nation (2002) CONVERSATION | The Changing Roles of Women Susan B. Anthony, from Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote? (1872) Charlotte Perkins Gilman, from Women and Economics (1898) Thorstein Veblen, from Conspicuous Consumption (1899) Edith Wharton, from The House of Mirth (1905) Florence Kelly, Speech on Child Labor (1905) Anti-Suffragette Post Cards (1909) Bertha M. Boye, Votes for Women (advertisement, 1911) Mary Jenney Howe, An Anti-Suffrage Monologue (1913) Margaret Sanger, A Letter to Friends (1914) Madeleine Kunin, Time for a New Revolution (2012)CONVERSATION | Immigration—The Lure of America Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus (1883) Joseph Keppler, Looking Backward (cartoon, 1893) Robert H. Clancy, An Un-American Bill (1924) Ellison DuRant Smith, Close the Door (1924) US Government, Immigration Law of 1924 Mary Gordon, More than Just a Shrine: Paying Homage to the Ghosts of Ellis Island (1985) David Brooks, Immigrants to be Proud Of (2006) Charles Bowden, Our Wall (2007) Ira Berlin, The Changing Definition of "African-American" (2010) Christof Niemann, Promised Land (magazine cover, 2011) Walter Russell Mead, America’s New Tiger Immigants (2012)CONVERSATION | The American Cowboy Joseph Nimmo Jr., The American Cowboy (1886) Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber (painting, 1889) Buffalo Bill Cody, The Wild West Programme (1893) Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life (1899) Owen Wister, from The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains (1902) E.E. Cummings, Buffalo Bill’s (1920) Leonard McCombe, Marlboro Man (photo, 1949) Gretel Ehrlich, About Men (1984) Sherman Alexie, My Heroes Have Never Been Cowboys (1993) Joy Kasson, Buffalo Bill's Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History (2001) Benjamin Percy, The Virginian Teaches the Merit of a Man (2007)Grammar as Rhetoric and Style – ModifiersSuggestions for Writing Chapter 9 | America in the Modern World – 1913-1945Ezra Pound, In a Station of the Metro (1913) A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste (1913)Marsden Hartley, Portrait of a German Officer (painting, 1914)Robert Frost, Reluctance (1913) Mending Wall (1914) Fire and Ice (1920) Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917) TalkBack Aaron A. Abeyta, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Tortilla (2002)Marianne Moore, Poetry (1919)Claude McKay, If We Must Die (1919)Theodore Dreiser, A Certain Oil Refinery (1919)Edna St. Vincent Millay, First Fig (1920)E. E. Cummings, [in Just--] (1920)Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1921) The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain (1926)T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925) William Carlos Williams, The Great Figure (1924) TalkBack Charles Demuth, The Figure 5 in Gold (1928) This is Just to Say (1934) TalkBack Kenneth Koch, Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams (1962)Ernest Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (1926) TalkBack Yiyun Li, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (2002)Zora Neale Hurston, How it Feels to be Colored Me (1928)William Faulkner, Barn Burning (1930)Edith Wharton, Roman Fever (1934) Eleanor Roosevelt, What Libraries Mean to the Nation (1936) Works Progress Administration, Bookmobile, Louisiana (photo, c.1936)Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address (1937)John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums (1938)W.H. Auden, Unknown Citizen (1939) Richard Wright, The Man Who Was Almost a Man (1940)Eudora Welty, A Worn Path (1941)Randall Jarrell, Death of a Ball-Turret Gunner (1945)Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President of the United States (1945) TalkBack Jonathan Schell, from The Fate of the Earth (1982)CONVERSATION | The Legacy of Jazz Gerald Early, from Jazz and the African American Literary Tradition (2010) Robert O’Meally, from Seeing Jazz (1997) Langston Hughes, Jazzonia (1923) Stuart Davis, Swing Landscape (painting, 1939) William Henry Johnson, Jitterbugs VI (painting, 1941) Ralph Ellison, from The Invisible Man (1947) Whitney Balliett, Daddy-O (1958) Donald Barthelme, The King of Jazz (1977) Jayne Cortez, Jazz Fan Looks Back (2002) Michael Segell, from The Devil’s Horn (2005) Evelyn Toynton, Jackson Pollack (2012)CONVERSATION | Japanese Internment and Reparations: Making It Right? Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Executive Order No. 9066 (1942) Western Defense Command, Evacuation Order (1942) Dorothea Lange, I Am an American (photo, 1942) Julie Otsuka, from When the Emperor Was Divine (2003) George H.W. Bush, Letter of Apology (1990) Erik K. Yamamoto, Racial Reparations: Japanese American Redress and African American Claims (1998) Brent Staples, The Slave Reparations Movement Adopts the Rhetoric of Victimhood (2001) Charles Ogletree Jr., Litigating the Legacy of Slavery (2002) Henry Louis Gates Jr., Ending the Slavery Blame Game (2010)CONVERSATION | What is American Literature? Walt Whitman, from Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1856) Emma Lazarus, American Literature (1881) John Macy, The Spirit of American Literature (1912) Sherwood Anderson, from An Apology for Crudity (1917) Amy Lowell, from The New Manner in Modern Poetry, On "New Poetry" (1917) Bliss Perry, from The American Spirit in Literature (1920) D.H. Lawrence, from The Spirit of Place (1923) Tom Wolfe, from Why They Aren’t Writing the Great American Novel Anymore (1972) Margaret Atwood, Hello, Martians. Let Moby-Dick Explain (2012) Grammar as Rhetoric and Style – Concise DictionSuggestions for Writing Chapter 10 | Redefining America – 1945 to the PresentElizabeth Bishop, The Fish (1946) William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech (1949)Bernard Malamud, The First Seven Years (1950)Langston Hughes, Theme for English B (1951)Flannery O’Connor, Good Country People (1951) TalkBacks Lawrence Downes, In Search of Flannery O’Connor (2007) Alice Walker, from Beyond the Peacock (1975)James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955)Will Counts, Little Rock’s Central High School (photo, 1957)Joan Didion, On Self-Respect (1961)Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963) TalkBack Malcolm Gladwell, Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted (2010)Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays (1962) Theodore Roethke, The Waking (1963)Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck (1973)Stephen Jay Gould, Women’s Brains (1980)Raymond Carver, Cathedral (1981)Sharon Olds, Rites of Passage (1983)Brent Staples, Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space (1986)Yusef Komunyakaa, Facing It (1988) Tim O’Brien, On the Rainy River (1990) Sandra Cisneros, Mericans (1991)Naomi Shahib Nye, Arabic Coffee (1992)Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria (1993)Sherman Alexie, Superman and Me (1997)Cynthia Ozick, No Taste for Accounting (1998) Rita Dove, Rosa (1998) Li-Young Lee, The Hammock (2000)Art Spiegelman, 9/11 (magazine cover, 2001) TalkBack Ana Juan, Reflections (magazine cover, 2011)Tracy Smith, Letter to a Photojournalist Going-In (2007)John Jeremiah Sullivan, Michael (2009) Jonathan Franzen, Agreeable (2010)Brian Turner, At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center (2010)Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges, from Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012)CONVERSATION | The Atomic Age Lillian Hellman, I Cannot and Will Not Cut my Conscience to Fit this Year’s Fashions (1952) Ace Comics, Atomic War! (comic book cover, 1952) Office of Civil Defense, Duck and Cover (film still, 1952) C. Wright Mills, from The Power Elite (1956) John F. Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis Speech (1962) Nikita Khrushchev, Letter to John F. Kennedy (1962) Julia Alvarez, Snow, (1991) Arthur Miller, Why I Wrote the Crucible (1996) Michael Scheibach, from Atomic Narratives and American Youth: Coming of Age with the Atom 2003)CONVERSATION | The Birth and Death of the American Middle Class Horatio Alger, from Ragged Dick (1867) Harlon L. Dalton, Horatio Alger (1995) Holly Sklar, The Growing Gulf Between the Rich and the Rest of Us (2005) Gregory Mantsios, Class in America (2006) Paul Krugman, Confronting Inequality (2007) Joseph E. Stiglitz, Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1% (2011) Charles Murray, The New American Divide (2012) Hendrick Smith, from Who Stole the American Dream (2012) Isabel Sawhill et al., Pathways to Middle Class (2012)CONVERSATION | America’s Romance with the Automobil The Ohio Electric Car Company, The Ohio Electric (advertisement, 1916) E.B. White, Farewell, My Lovely (1936) John Updike, from Rabbit, Run (1960) Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965) Stephen Dunn, The Sacred (1989) Heather McHugh, Auto (1994) James Surowiecki, The Open Secret of Success (2008) SmartCar, It Fits into Tight Places (advertisement, 2011) Frank DeFord, Americans Hit the Brakes on NASCAR (2012) Jordan Weissmann, Why Don’t Young Americans Buy Cars? (2012) The New York Times, Sunday Dialogue: Changing Our Car Culture (2012)Grammar as Rhetoric and Style - Parallel StructureSuggestions for Writing