This course features detailed essay topics in the assignments
This course focuses on the period between roughly 1550-1850. American ideas of race had taken on a certain shape by the middle of the nineteenth century, consolidated by legislation, economics, and the institution of chattel slavery. But both race and identity meant very different things three hundred years earlier, both in their dictionary definitions and in their social consequences. How did people constitute their identities in early America, and how did they speak about these identities? Texts will include travel writing, captivity narratives, orations, letters, and poems, by Native American, English, Anglo-American, African, and Afro-American writers.