University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee LogoMasters in Liberal Arts

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Professor Kristie Hamilton
Master of Liberal Studies Program
Curtin Hall 902
Phone: (414) 229-5963
Fax: (414) 229-5964
Office Hours by appointment

LibrlSt 701: Traditions and Transformations I

Envisioning Self and Society in American Art, Literature and Thought, 1565-1870

Course Description:
Of what significance is the individual in American culture? What is her or his relationship to larger society? How is that relationship seen differently by people of various backgrounds and experience? How have the terms of and responses to these questions changed over time? Why is it important that we ask these questions of ourselves?

This course will explore the relationship between self and society in colonial/pre-modern America from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. Each week and moving in essentially chronological order, learners will examine and discuss at least three primary "texts" drawn from visual art, literature, and other pertinent fields of thought which reflect key ideas and values that shaped a particular historical period. These texts are intended to provide significant, sometimes divergent insight into a wide array of fundamental issues, including cultural contact, colonialism, and power; standards of social justice and moral responsibility; identity questions such as race, gender, and class; interrelationships between human/nature, humane/natural, and how we define these terms; the accelerating impact of technology; and shifting concepts of knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual fulfillment.

The course also will include a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago to tour its pre-1870 American collections. In addition, lectures and other events sponsored by the Center for Twenty-first Century Studies may periodically augment classroom discussions.

The goal of this course is to provide a diverse cohort of entering liberal studies graduate learners with a common introduction to issues that have defined and driven the arts and humanities. It also will offer individuals a basic sampling of resources, methods, and theories used across disciplines to explore these issues. Ultimately, the course will prepare participants for LibrlSt 702 in which many of the same or related issues will be reexamined in a modern/postmodern historical context.

Required Texts:

  • George McMichael [et al.], Anthology of American Literature, 10th ed., vol. I (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008).
  • Marianne Doezema and Elizabeth Milroy, ed., Reading American Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (Toronto: Broadview, 2009).
  • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999).
  • Course Packet of supplementary readings: Panther Bookstore, 3132 N. Downer Avenue.
  • Course website: (images of all primary visual texts).

Course Requirements:
Members are expected to attend class, special lectures, and field trips. They must also complete all readings and other assignments on schedule and participate regularly in classroom discussions.

A 1-page critical commentary on the assigned "texts" will be written and submitted in typed form before each class (through Nov 26). Each week, one class member will waive the 1-page commentary, and instead prepare/present a 20-30 minute critical introduction to the scheduled topic and texts; she/he will also pose significant questions and help to mediate different viewpoints. Further instructions and schedule details will be offered at the first class meeting.

Toward the end of the semester, each class member will have the option of submitting a preliminary expanded version of one of his/her weekly commentaries. Expansion should be based on the class discussion, follow-up thought, and further research. This preliminary version will be reviewed and returned on the last day of classes so that the required Final Commentary (8-10 pages) can be submitted one week later (Dec. 17). See Course Schedule for specific deadlines.

Course Grading:
1. Attendance/Participation:     20%
2. Weekly Commentaries (Cumulative):     30%
3. Class Introduction : 20%
4. Final Commentary: 30%

Course Schedule: Topics and Assignments:


  • Nancy Anne Cluck, "Reflections on the Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Humanities," in William H. Newell ed., Interdisciplinarity (New York: College Board, 1998), 353-361 [course packet]

  • Michael J. Collins, "Teaching Literature in a Liberal Studies Program," and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, "Seeing Art as Cultural Inquiry," Phyllis O'Callaghan ed., Values in Conflict: An Interdisciplinary Approach (University Press of America, 1997), 19-43 [course packet]

Week 2: COLONIZATION (Sept. 17)

  • Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere and the Indian Chief Athore Visit Ribaut's Column, c.1570 (gouache on parchment, New York Public Library)

  • Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere, from A Notable Historie Containing Foure Voyages Made by Certaine French Captaines unto Florida, 1587 [course packet]

  • Captain John Smith, from The General History of Virginia, 1624 [McMichael, 43-54]

  • Iroquois League, from The Constitution of the Five Nations [McMichael, 33-36]

  • Navajo, Dine' Bahane [McMichael, 65-79]

  • Howard Zinn, "Columbus, the Indian, and Human Progress," A People's History of the United States 1492-Present(Harper Collins, 1999), 1-22[course packet]

  • William R. Polk, "Whites, Indians, and Land," from The Birth of America (Harper Collins, 2006), 186-206 [course packet]

Week 3: THE PURITAN — Voices and Figures (Sept. 24)

  • Thomas Smith, Self-Portrait, c.1690 (oil on canvas, Worcester Art Museum)

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1849 [McMichael, 1193-1310]

  • John Winthrop, from A Model of Christian Charity, 1630; and The Journal, 1637-38 [McMichael, 125-127, 133-136, 117-119]

  • Thomas Hutchinson, The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, 1637 [McMichael 29-33]

  • Roger Williams, from The Bloody Tenet of Persecution, 1644; and To The Town of Providence, 1655 [McMichael, 142-145]

  • Edward Taylor, Meditation 150 (Second Series), 1719 [McMichael, 192, 197-198]

Week 4: 17th CENTURY WOMAN — Voices and Figures (Oct. 1)

  • Unknown Artist, Elizabeth and Baby Mary Freake, 1674 (oil on canvas, Worcester Art Museum)

  • Wayne Craven, "The Seventeenth-Century New England Mercantile Image: Social Content and Style in the Freake Portraits" [Doezema & Milroy, 1-11]

  • Anne Bradstreet, Selected Poems, various dates [McMichael, 154-155, 162-166, and "Upon the Burning of Our House," 171-173]

  • Mary Rowlandson, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, 1682 [McMichael, 235-252]

  • Cotton Mather, from The Wonders of the Visible World, 1692 [McMichael, 202-211]


  • John Smibert, The Bermuda Group, 1729 (oil on canvas, Yale University Art Gallery)

  • Wayne Craven, "John Smibert: The Knelleresque Ideal and the Empiricism of George Berkeley," Colonial American Portraiture (Cambridge University Press, 1986), 152-163 [course packet]

  • Jonathan Edwards, Personal Narrative, 1765; and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741 [McMichael, 304-314, 319-330]

  • Samuel Sewall, The Selling of Joseph, 1700; and from The Diary of Samuel Sewall, 1674-1729 [McMichael, 221-234]

  • Sarah Kemble Knight, The Journal of Madam Knight, 1704 [McMichael, 271-280]

  • William Byrd II, from The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover, 1709-1712 [McMichael, 282-286]

  • John Woolman, from The Journal of John Woolman 1756-57 [McMichael, 293-299]

  • Samson Occom, from A Short Narrative of My Life, c1780 [McMichael, 448-452]


  • John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere, 1768 (oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

  • Paul Staiti, "Character and Class: The Portraits of John Singleton Copley" [Doezema & Milroy, 12-37]

  • Thomas Paine, from Common Sense, 1776 [McMichael, 500-502]

  • Olaudah Equiano, from The Life of Olaudah Equiano, 1789 [McMichael, 482-498]

  • Phillis Wheatley, Selected Poems, 1773 [McMichael, 604-605, 608-609]

  • Philip Freneau, To Sir Toby, 1784 [McMichael, 617-619]

  • Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson, Letters, 1791 [McMichael, 351-354]

  • Benjamin Franklin, An Address to the Public, c1789 [McMichael, 446-447]

  • Howard Zinn, "Tyrrany is Tyrrany," A People's History of the United States 1492-Present (Harper Collins, 1999), 59-75 [course packet]

  • William R. Polk, "Blacks in America," from The Birth of America (Harper Collins, 2006), 163-185 [course packet]

Week 7: ENLIGHTENMENT (Oct. 22)

  • Charles Willson Peale, The Artist in His Museum, 1822 (oil on canvas, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts)

  • Roger B. Stein, "Charles Willson Peale's Expressive Design: The Artist in His Museum" [Doezema & Milroy, 38-78]

  • Benjamin Franklin, from The Autobiography, 1771-1790; and Speech to the Convention, 1787 [McMichael, 377-420, 445-446]

  • Judith Sargent Murray, On the Equality of the Sexes, 1792 [McMichael, 641-649]

  • Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1793 [McMichael, 508-515]

  • Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785 [McMichael, 521-545]

Week 8: THE COMMON MAN (Oct. 29)

  • William Sidney Mount, The Painter's Triumph, 1838 (oil on canvas, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts)

  • William T. Oedel and Todd S. Gernes, "The Painter's Triumph: William Sidney Mount and the Formation of a Middle Class Art" [Doezema & Milroy, 128-149]

  • Benjamin Franklin, Information to Those Who Would Remove to America, nd [McMichael, 439-444]

  • M.-G.-J. de Crevecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer, 1782 [McMichael, 458-471]

  • Philip Freneau, On Mr. Paine's Rights of Man, 1791 [McMichael, 621-622]

  • George Bancroft, The Common Man in Art, Politics, and Religion, 1835 [course packet]

  • George McDuffie, The Natural Slavery of the Negro, 1835 [course packet]

Week 9: NATIVE AMERICAN — Voices and Figures (Nov. 5)

  • Thomas Cole, Scene from The Last of the Mohicans, 1827 (oil on canvas, Wadsworth Atheneum); and George Catlin, View of the Mandan Village, 1839 (oil on canvas, National Museum of American Art)

  • Kathryn S. Hight, "'Doomed to Perish': George Catlin's Depictions of the Mandan" [Doezema & Milroy, 150-162]

  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, 1826[Ch. IX up to Ch. XXIV, pp. 81-243, Penguin ed.]

  • Tecumseh, Speech to the Osage Indians, 1812 [McMichael, 701-703]

  • Elias Boudinot, An Address to the Whites, 1826 [McMichael, 801-811]

  • William Apess, Eulogy on King Philip, 1836 [McMichael, 796-800]

  • Black Hawk, from Autobiography, 1833 [McMichael, 784-788]

  • John Mohawk, Spiritualism and the Law of Peace, 1986 [course packet]

  • Sherman Alexie, from The Toughest Indian in the World, 2000 [course packet]

  • *Optional Reading*: Brown, Dee, "Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy" from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Henry Holt & Co.), 1-12 [course packet]

Week 10: ROMANTICISM & NATURE (Nov. 12)

  • Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits, 1849 (oil on canvas, New York Public Library)

  • William Cullen Bryant, To Cole, The Painter, Departing for Europe, 1832 [McMichael, 871]

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, 1836 [McMichael, 940-968]

  • Henry David Thoreau, from Walden, 1854 [McMichael, 1657-1667, 1674-1689]

  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, 1826 [Ch. XXIV to Concl., pp. 244-350, Penguin ed.]

  • George Henry Evans, A New Homestead Policy, 1845 [course packet]

  • John H. Griscom, Report on the Sanitary Conditions in New York City, 1845 [course packet]

Week 11: SCIENCE & NATURE (Nov. 19)

  • Frederic Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859 (oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art); and Icebergs, 1861 (oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art)

  • Barbara Novak, from Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980) [course packet]

  • William Bartram, from Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, 1791 [McMichael, 626-640]

  • Edgar Allan Poe, Sonnet-To Science, 1843 [McMichael, 883]

  • Walt Whitman, To a Locomotive in Winter, 1876 [McMichael, 2156-2157]

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birth-Mark, 1843; and Rappaccini's Daughter, 1854 [McMichael, 1079-1110]

  • Herman Melville, The Berg, 1888 [McMichael, 1355-1413, 1480]

  • Matthew F. Maury, from The Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986) [course packet]

Week 12: 19th CENTURY WOMAN — Voices and Figures (Nov. 26)

  • Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave, 1844 (marble, Yale University Art Gallery); and Lilly Martin Spencer, Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses, 1856 (oil on canvas, Brooklyn Museum of Art

  • Joy S. Kasson, "Narrative of the Female Body: The Greek Slave," [Doezema & Milroy, 163-189]

  • Sarah Margaret Fuller, from Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 1845 [McMichael, 1056-1066]

  • Harriet Ann Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, 1861 [McMichael, 1953-1980]

  • Louisa May Alcott, from Little Women, 1869 [McMichael, 2002-2029]

  • Seneca Falls Declaration on Women's Rights, 1848 [course packet]

  • Sojourner Truth, Speech to Women's Rights Convention, 1851 [McMichael, 877-878]

  • Fanny Fern, Independence, 1859; and The Working-Girls of New York, 1867 [McMichael, 1914-1915]


Week 13: AFRICAN AMERICAN — Voices and Figures (Dec. 5) [Optional Preliminary Commentary Submitted]

  • Eastman Johnson, Old Kentucky Home, 1859 (oil on canvas, New York Historical Society); and Edmonia Lewis, Forever Free, 1867 (marble, Howard University Art Gallery)

  • Kirsten P. Buick, "The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking and Inverting Autobiography" [Doezema & Milroy, 190-207]

  • Frederick Douglass, from Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, 1845; and What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, 1852 [McMichael, 1517-1576, 1582-1585]

  • William Lloyd Garrison, On the Constitution and the Union, 1832 [McMichael, 703-705]

  • Maria Stewart, An Address Delivered Before The Afric-American Female Intelligence Society, 1832 [1042-1046]

  • Josiah Henson, from The Life of Josiah Henson, 1849 [McMichael, 1504-1515]

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, from Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852 [McMichael, 1883-1901]

  • Frances E. W. Harper, The Slave Mother, 1857 [McMichael, 1996-1997, 1998]

  • *Optional Reading*: John Greenleaf Whittier, The Farewell, 1838 [McMichael, 1836-1837]

Week 14: CIVIL WAR (Dec. 10) [Optional Preliminary Commentary returned]

  • Matthew Brady, On Antietem Battlefield, 1862 (photograph, Library of Congress)

  • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, 1895. [Chapters 1-13, 25 only]

  • Stephan A. Douglas, Speech (3rd Debate), 1858 [McMichael, 705-712]

  • Abraham Lincoln, To Horace Greeley, 1862; and Gettysburg Address, 1863 [McMichael, 1988-1989]

  • James Whitfield, America, 1853 [McMichael, 1981-1984]

  • Walt Whitman, Beat! Beat! Drums!, 1861 [McMichael, 2134-2135]

  • Herman Melville, Shiloh: A Requiem, 1862 [McMichael, 1472]

  • Louisa May Alcott, from Hospital Sketches, 1863 [McMichael, 2034-2052]

  • Fernando Wood, Mayoral Proposal: Secession of New York City, 1861 [course packet]

  • Louis Agassiz, Letter to Dr. Samuel Howe: The Future of the Free Negro, 1863 [course packet]

Course Evaluation

Exam Week/Monday Dec. 17 [Final Commentary due: deliver, mail, fax or email]

*Description and design used, by permission, from course by MLS founding Director Professor Jeffrey R. Hayes, with some modifications.

Course Policies:

  • Attendance: Regular attendance is expected, of course. As per above, attendance/participation accounts for 20% of your final grade.

  • Incompletes: Incompletes will not be given except in extraordinary circumstances and must be approved by Hamilton in advance. Students are strongly advised against stepping onto this slippery slope.

  • Scholastic Dishonesty, i.e., plagiarism or inappropriate collusion, is taken very seriously at the graduate level and has serious consequences. Instances of academic misconduct will be handled according to University of Wisconsin policies and procedures. These may be found by "searching" the UWM website for "Academic Misconduct."

****** For a good online resource on documentation using the MLA Style Sheet, go to

If you are uncertain (or need a refresher!) about what is and is not plagiarism, check out this website called "How Not to Plagiarize." It is clear and helpful:

For UWM Policies concerning students, go to

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Send your questions and comments to the MLS director. Last Updated 9-11-2012