The first historian of the American Revolution, David Ramsay, wrote in 1789, “In establishing American independence the pen and the press had merit equal to that of the sword”. In this seminar we will take a look at the role that literature played in the conflict that gave birth to the American nation. Between 1763 and 1789 the slowly escalating war between the American colonies and the British mother country was accompanied by a wealth of literature that found diverse ways to articulate foundational national values, inspire unity and perseverance, and demonize the enemy. We will read and discuss pamphlets of authors like John Dickinson, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, the satires of Benjamin Franklin, the poetry of Philip Freneau, Francis Hopkinson, and Ann Bleecker, and the plays of Hugh Brackenridge and John Leacock. The fervent spirit of these texts will be contrasted with the more somber tone that pervades the literary reflections of the Revolution in the first half of the 19th century in works by Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.
- Dozent/in: Martin Holtz