The American Renaissance describes an extremely important period in the history of American literature (roughly beginning with the publication of Emerson's "Nature" in 1836 and ending around 1861 with the Civil War), an unprecedented flourishing of fictional and non-fictional writing that established American authors as a significant part of world literature.  In the space of just a few years, a number of texts were written and published that continued to shape our understanding of American literature to this day. In this course, we will work towards an understanding of this literary movements, its underlying philosophy, literary modes and techniques, topics and genres, writers and texts.