Colonial and Early American Literature; Literature and Science
"Students often come into a course on early American literature expecting to learn something about the origin of the United States. And as people who were born here, or moved here, or live here for the moment, they expect to learn something about themselves too. I try to impress upon them that, for most of the colonial period, people in the Americas had no idea that something called the ‘United States’ would ever exist, or that they were ‘progressing’ toward it. They inhabited a different world that needs to be understood on its own terms. When the class goes well, they do learn something about origins, but not in the way they expected."