Open Anthology of Earlier American Lit: TOC Open for Comment

open textbook projects

The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature is a great OER story. It began as a way to save students money in an American literature survey course, has turned into a project held up as a model of open pedagogy, and in its next phase, we hope it will grow into a genuine alternative to costly traditional anthologies and allow faculty and students more freedom to engage with the texts in new ways.

Since finding a new lead to guide this project, we’ve been working hard on the next steps. Lead editor Tim Robbins has been developing a draft table of contents with the help of his student assistant, Matt Moore. Tim explained some of the rationale behind the initial draft in a recent blog post:

I embraced the open project with Rebus accepting that my inclination towards social history would color the anthology’s roster, a case reinforced in the opening draft of our Table of Contents. As expected, the sections track roughly chronologically and feature representative authors and texts. Indigenous creation stories confront European colonial documents; the early texts of New England’s Puritan pulpits are met and challenged by the voices and pens of native peoples, African slaves, and women writers. The American Revolution gives way to an explosion of social movements and an expansion of the canon stretching from Thomas Paine’s republican propaganda to the birth of African-American letters in Phillis Wheatley. The selections from the early nineteenth century include the familiar names of the “American Renaissance”—Emerson, Poe, Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville—in tandem with the literature of abolitionism. The post-Civil War sections aim to balance the significant social writings of the Gilded Age and Reconstruction era with the emergence of realist fiction.

We would now like to invite the community to comment on the draft and help select the texts that will represent each author. In particular, we are looking for:

  • Feedback on the sections and structure
  • Feedback on the authors selected for each section
  • Suggested texts for each author
  • Any other comments or suggestions

If you have some experience working or teaching with anthologies of early American literature, we welcome your feedback on the proposed TOC. You can access the document here and add your comments.

If you have any general comments or wish to discuss anything with other collaborators on the project, you can also reply to the project post in the Rebus Community forum.

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