Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Class information

ENG253 American Literature to 1865

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  • CRN: 42668
  • Credits: 4
  • Locations, days, times, and instructors:
    • Online, Available 24/7
      From September 26 through December 17, 2022, Blake M Hausman

Class materials


No textbooks required

Details about this class

Note: This is a FULLY ONLINE class. There will not be any in-person or zoom meetings for ENG 253 at PCC in Fall 2022.

Osiyo / Hello!

Greetings! ENG 253 is a 200-level literature course focusing on works of writing produced within the United States prior to 1865 -- American lit before the Civil War.

Course description, and reverse chronology  

This course intends to respect, honor, and appreciate the inherent diversity of people working and writing within the boundaries of the contemporary USA, and we will make a point to study works by wide range of authors, with particular attention given to works by Native American and African American writers. 

Personally, my specialty as a researcher and teacher is Native American and Indigenous literatures. I'm a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, I earned a PhD in English from UC Berkeley with an emphasis on Native literatures, and I'm a founding instructor of Native American Studies at PCC. I've studied a good deal of 18th- and 19th-century Native writing, and I look forward to discussing several early Native writers in our ENG 253 class this fall. 

Instead of taking the standard chronological approach to early American literature, this class is going to engage the literature in "reverse chronological order." Meaning, we'll start with 1865, and then go "backwards."

From my perspective, it can be difficult to develop our own lenses for studying really early American lit if we assume that American lit "begins" with the Puritans. Because let's be honest -- "American" lit is ancient, many thousands of years old, although it didn't go by the word "American" until relatively recently, and it wasn't written in English until 17th century. So, instead of imagining that the literatures of this continent didn't exist prior to colonization, we're going to acknowledge that the literatures of this continent are ancient and multingual; but since this is an English class, we're going to focus on stories in English. 

Ultimately, I think this sort of "reverse" chronology can make canonical writers like Anne Bradstreet and Edgar Allan Poe even more interesting than if we "started" with 1492 and moved "forward" from there.

Course textbooks

Because the material for our class was published relatively long ago, most of it is available for free in the public domain, as long as you have internet access. I will provide links and pdfs for all of our class material. Everything will be available online in our class website.

There are two books which we will read in full -- the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and Harriet Jacobs's "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." You are not *required* to purchase these books, since there are free versions available online. Links to free ebooks (and audiobooks) will be provided in the course website.

However, even though the course books are all available freely online, you might be like me, and you might prefer to have your own print copy of the Jacobs and Douglass books. For me, it's just easier to read a whole book on paper than on my screen/phone. If you feel similarly, please know that you can also purchase your own copy (new or used) for a relatively inexpensive price online. You can also purchase the books from the PCC Bookstore, where they are both listed as "recommended texts" for our class. 

Credit to degree and transferability

This course counts as core Gen Ed (Arts & Letters) credit toward an Associates Degree at PCC, and it will count as either core or elective credit toward a BA or BS at Oregon universities.

For English majors -- ENG 253 counts as credit toward an Associates in English and is guaranteed to count as 200-level credit toward an BA in English at all Oregon public universities that offer an English major. It is part of the English Major Transfer Map that we have developed in Oregon to support clearer transfer of credits.

Contact me if you have quesitons! 

Please contact me if you have any questions about ENG 253 this fall: blake.hausman@pcc.edu.



 You will need the basics for an online course -- a computer or tablet with Internet access, and a word processing program for composing your own writing.

Online class information

No show policy
Your instructor can mark you as a "no show" if you do not participate in your class during the first week. This will remove you from the class. It is important to log in as soon as the class starts to see what the participation requirements are.
Online & Remote Teaching Technical Requirements:
Please be sure to read the quick guide to Online Learning technical requirements.
Students with Disabilities:
Students with disabilities should notify their instructor if accommodations are needed to take this class. For information about technologies that help people with disabilities taking Online based classes please visit the Disability Services website.
Online Prerequisite | Start Guide for Online Learning:
Before you take your first online class at PCC, you must complete the start guide for online learning. The start guide will help you decide if online classes are right for you. Once you complete the start guide, you will be eligible to register for online classes.

The Start Guide is not required for Hybrid or Remote Classes but strongly recommended. To learn more, go to https://www.pcc.edu/osg