Aml2410: Topics in American Literature and Culture section 4800: Early American Women Writers

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AML2410: Topics in American Literature and Culture

SECTION 4800: Early American Women Writers

Instructor: Sarah Hayes

Schedule: Tuesday Periods 8-9, Thursday Period 9

MAT 115


English Dept. Phone: 392-3261

Office: Turlington 4307

Office Hours: Thursday periods 7-8 and by appointment

This course will focus on American women writers to 1820. Often when we think of early American writing, we think largely of America’s founders and founding fathers, such as William Bradford, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. This course will focus on the early American women writers who either entered the budding American literary tradition or created a tradition of their own. We will examine genres such as poetry, captivity narrative, travel narrative, and spiritual narrative. We will discuss how women used literature as a space to discuss legal, political, marital and reproductive rights. Alongside issues of gender and sexuality, we will also emphasize notions of race, ethnicity and religion. Texts read in this class will include those by Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Phillis Wheatly, Susanna Rowson, Hannah Foster, Sarah Kemble Knight and Elizabeth Ashbridge. We will also read several critical essays to help us contextualize this early writing.

Course Structure

AML2410 will blend lecture, class discussion and writing. As a result, you will be required to actively participate in classroom discussions. In this class you will learn how to read contextually and rhetorically, form arguments and write critically about literature. You will be responsible for writing response papers for the assigned readings and sharing your ideas in class. These response papers will prepare you to write one short essay that will address the themes of the course and one longer capstone paper. The critical thinking and communication skills you learn will extend beyond this class and ensure your success in your other courses, in your future career and in your daily life. This is a General Education course providing student learning outcomes listed in the Undergraduate Catalog. For more information, see

Required Texts (Can be purchased at UF Bookstore, Reitz Union)
Early American Writing. Ed. Giles Gunn. Penguin, 1994.
Journey in New Worlds. Ed. William L. Andrews. U Wisconsin P, 1990.
The Coquette. Hannah Webster Foster. Penguin, 1996.
Charlotte Temple. Susanna Rowson. Penguin, 1991.
Writing About Literature. Janet Gardner. 2nd edition. Bedford/St. Martins, 2009.

Response Papers (2000 words total)

Students will make discoveries, illustrate their ideas and thinking, and explore the implications of their ideas based on a single assigned reading or set of assigned readings. Students will write two different types of response papers: 2 close-reading papers (250 words each) and 2 point/support papers (750 words each). For close-reading papers, students will select a passage in the text and unpack the meaning of this passage. For point/support papers, students will make a point about the assigned text and support that point with the text. These assignments will build on each other and help students gain the skills to write the short and final essay. Each close-reading response paper is worth 50 points and each point/support paper is worth 100 points.


Short Essay (1600 words)

Students will write one short essay in which they link a reading or group of readings to one of the themes of the course. These will be thesis driven papers, meaning students will come up with an original argument about an assigned reading and use examples from that reading to support their argument.



In preparation for the final essay, students will complete an outline that includes introduction, topic sentences, and supporting evidence.


Final Essay (2400 words)

Students will write one longer essay at the end of the semester that examines the larger themes of the course. Students will be provided with a set of essay prompts, but may also propose a topic that interests them. Like the short essay, this will be an original thesis driven paper.


Pop Quizzes

4 pop quizzes, worth 25 points each, will be given throughout the duration of the semester. These quizzes will be on the assigned reading for that day or unit and will demonstrate students’ understanding of a particular text or set of texts.


Total Points


Grading Scale

A 4.0 93-100 930-1000 C 2.0 73-76 730-769

A- 3.67 90-92 900-929 C- 1.67 70-72 700-729

B+ 3.33 87-89 870-899 D+ 1.33 67-69 670-699

B 3.0 83-86 830-869 D 1.0 63-66 630-669

B- 2.67 80-82 800-829 D- 0.67 60-62 600-629

C+ 2.33 77-79 770-799 E 0.00 0-59 0-599

Grading Criteria

A-range essays are focused, specific and detailed. They contain an original thesis that complicates or questions an idea and addresses why your topic is important. They engage closely with the course materials and themes. Paragraphs begin with a strong topic sentence, develop one idea and analyze that idea thoroughly. They use specific examples from the text and do not over-quote. Essay is coherent and clear, follows assignment guidelines and length, is free of errors in grammar and punctuation, is proof-read and follows MLA style.

A-range response papers are focused, specific and detailed. Response papers introduce an idea and analyze it thoroughly; they say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot. Response engages in a close reading of the text and in the themes of the unit. Uses specific examples from the text and does not over-quote. Essay is coherent and clear, follows assignment guidelines and length.

B-range essays and responses complicate or question an idea but could be more focused, specific and detailed. Papers have an original thesis but may not address the importance of your topic. Examples and quotes could occur more or less frequently to support/illustrate ideas, but when used are relevant to the point. Essay follows assignment guidelines and length, but could have clarity or style issues. Essays may have grammatical or punctuation errors. In addition, B-range essays have a thesis that is followed throughout but the paper may drift away from it at times.

C-range essays and responses have promise and are passable but need improvement in several key areas, such as argument focus, level of analysis, structure and style. Papers may have repetitive grammatical errors that take away from the meaning or credibility of the paper. In addition, C-range essays may have a thesis that is simplistic or unfocused. The link between the thesis and following paragraphs may be incoherent.

D-range essays and responses often have promise but need work in several areas, such as creating clear thesis or statement and using the text to support it. Papers may merely summarize the text rather than engage in a meaningful analysis of it. Writer’s thoughts are often difficult to follow or are repetitive. Quotes may not make sense in the context of the paper or go unsupported by analysis. Papers may have repetitive and/or careless grammatical errors that take away from the meaning or credibility of the paper and may not fulfill assignment guidelines and length requirements. In addition, D-range essays may have a thesis that is off-topic or non-existent and is not developed in the body of the paper.

In addition to the problems of a D paper, E-range essays and responses do not engage with the themes of the unit or class, may lack comprehension and present a superficial response. E essays fail to meet the basic criteria of argument and support.

Composition (C) and Humanities (H) Credit:

This course can satisfy the UF General Education requirement for Composition or Humanities. For more information, see:

Writing Requirement (Formerly Gordon Rule)

This course can provide 6000 words toward fulfillment of the UF requirement for writing. For more information, see:

You must pass this course with a grade of C or better to receive credit for the 6,000-word University Writing Requirement (E6). You must turn in all papers to receive credit for writing 6,000 words. A grade of C or better satisfies the University's General Education Composition (C) requirement. You must pass with a grade of C or better if this course is to satisfy the CLAS requirement of a second course in Composition (C). If you are not in CLAS, check the catalog or with your advisor to see if your college has other writing requirements.

Grading Appeals

In 1000- and 2000- level courses, students may appeal a final grade by filling out a form available from Carla Blount, Program Assistant.



AML2410 is a participation-oriented course, which means that you will build your skills and gain knowledge incrementally and systematically in each class throughout the semester. Attendance is crucial in engaging with other students about the reading and writing assignments. Much of the learning that takes place is spontaneous and difficult to reproduce outside of class.

Consequently, if you miss more than six periods during the semester, you will fail the entire course. Only those absences involving military service; court-mandated obligations, such as jury duty and court testimony; university-sponsored events, such as athletics and band, and religious holidays, are exempt. Absences for illness or family emergencies will count toward your six allowed absences. Each absence beyond three may lower your overall grade by 50 points.

If you are absent, it is still your responsibility to make yourself aware of all due dates. You are still responsible for turning assignments in on time. Please do not come late to class; arriving late disrupts the entire class. If you are more than 15 minutes late, you will be marked absent. Being tardy three times will equal one absence. Save your absences for when you’re really ill.


You are expected to be prepared for every class, including completing all reading and writing assignments on time. Papers and drafts are due at the beginning of class. Extensions can be negotiated in advance of deadline; late papers will not be accepted. Encrypted files and blank/empty files will not be accepted. Failure of technology is not an excuse.

Mode of Submission

All papers must be in 12-point Times New Roman or Calibri font and double-spaced. Be sure to staple papers before submitting hard copies. Your final drafts should be polished, proof read, and presented in a professional manner. Students will be notified in class whether a paper is to be submitted on Sakai or in hard copy.


Cell phones must be silenced or on vibrate. Laptops are not necessary for this class and must be kept shut and put away.


Plagiarism is a serious violation of the Student Honor Code. The Honor Code prohibits and defines plagiarism as follows:

Plagiarism: A student shall not represent as the student’s own work all or any portion of the work of another. Plagiarism includes (but is not limited to):

a. Quoting oral or written materials, whether published or unpublished, without proper attribution.

b. Submitting a document or assignment which in whole or in part is identical or substantially identical to a document or assignment not authored by the student.

c. Submitting a document or assignment which in whole or in part is identical or substantially identical to a document or assignment authored by the student and submitted for another course. (University of Florida, Student Honor Code, 15 Aug. 2007 <>)

University of Florida students are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the entire Student Honor Code. All students are required to abide by the Student Honor Code. For more information about academic honesty, including definitions of plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration, see:

Important Tip: You should never copy and paste something from the Internet without providing the exact location from which it came.

All acts of plagiarism will result in failure of the assignment and a report filed with the Dean of Students Office. Plagiarism can occur even without any intention to deceive if the student fails to know and employ proper documentation techniques.

Unless otherwise indicated by the instructor for class group work, all work must be your own. Nothing written for another course will be accepted.

Academic Honesty

As a University of Florida student, your performance is governed by the UF Honor Code, available in its full form at The Honor Code requires Florida students to neither give nor receive unauthorized aid in completing all assignments. Violations include cheating, plagiarism, bribery, resubmission, and misrepresentation.

Graded Materials

Students are responsible for maintaining duplicate copies of all work submitted in this course and retaining all returned, graded work until the semester is over. Should the need arise for a re-submission of papers or a review of graded papers, it is the student’s responsibility to have and to make available this material.

Students must wait 24 hours after a paper is returned before contacting the instructor regarding his/her grade on that paper.

Classroom Behavior and Harassment

UF provides an educational and working environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sex discrimination and sexual harassment. For more about UF policies regarding harassment, see:

Please keep in mind that students come from diverse cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the texts we will discuss and write about engage with controversial topics and opinions. Diverse student backgrounds combined with provocative texts require that you demonstrate respect for ideas that may differ from your own.

Students with Disabilities

The Disability Resource Center in the Dean of Students Office provides information and support regarding accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information, see:

Course Schedule (Tentative)

Week 1: January 6-10

T- Review syllabus, expectations, and assignments

TH – Introduction to Early American Women Writers
Week 2: January 13-17
TRead Carla Mulford “Writing Women in Early American Studies” on Sakai
TH Puritanism in America

Read John Cotton, William Bradford, Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands” and Roger Williams in Early American Writing
Week 3: January 20-24
T – Read Anne Bradstreet’s poem in Early American Writing and on Sakai
TH – Writing a Close-Reading response paper

Read Writing About Literature pgs. 44-47

Week 4: January 27-31
T Read Ann Hutchinson “The Examination of Mrs. Hutchinson at the Court at Newtown” in Early American Writing

Close-Reading # 1 Due

TH – Avoiding Plagiarism

Read Writing About Literature pgs. 119-121

Week 5: February 3-7

T – The American Captivity Narrative

Read Mary Rowlandson “A True History of the Captivity and Restoration…” in Journeys in New Worlds pgs. 13-65

Close-Reading #2 Due

TH- Making a point and supporting it with text

Read Writing About Literature pgs. 34-42, 47-51

Week 6: February 10-14

T- Women’s Travel Narrative

Read Sarah Kemble Knight “The Journal of Madam Knight” in Journeys in New Worlds pgs. 69-116

Point/Support #1 Due

TH- Citing using MLA style

Read Writing About Literature pgs. 121-137

Week 7: February 17-21

T – The Quaker Conversion Narrative

Read Elizabeth Ashbridge “Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life…” in Journeys in New Worlds pgs. 119-180

Point/Support #2 Due

TH – Read Jan Lewis “The Republican Wife” on Sakai
Week 8: February 24-28
T – Women and the New Republic

Read Abigail Adams’ letters and Phillis Wheatley’s poems in Early American Writing
TH –Writing an essay about literature and Outlining

Read Writing About Literature pgs. 16-34

Week 9: March 3-7

No Class - Spring Break!

Week 10: March 10-14
T – The Seduction Novel

Read Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple: Introduction to Charlotte Temple, the “Author’s Preface” and Chapters 1-4
TH – Read Charlotte Temple Chapters 5-15
Week 11: March 17-21
T- Read Charlotte Temple Chapters 16-28
TH- Read Charlotte Temple Chapters 29-Conclusion
Week 12: March 24-28
TRead Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette Intro and Letters I-X (pgs. 105-21)

Short Essay Due
THRead The Coquette Letters XI-XXVIII (pgs.121-49)

Week 13: March 31 – April 4

T Read The Coquette Letters XXIX-LIV (pgs. 149-99)

TH – Read The Coquette Letters LV-LXVI (pgs. 199-223)

Week 14: April 7-11

T- Read The Coquette Letters LXVII - end

Outline Due

TH- Early American Activism

Read Judith Sargent Murray “On the Equality of the Sexes” in Early American Writing, “Desultory Thoughts…” and “Observations on Female Abilities Part III” on Sakai

Week 15: April 14-18

T – Sarah Wentworth Morton poems on Sakai

Rough Draft Due
TH Course evaluations; Final questions

Week 16: April 21-25

T – Mandatory Conferences

Final Paper Due Monday, April 28th at Noon

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