Web Resources for Early American Literature: A Beginning: Very much under construction, but the beginning of a comprehensive listing of web sites that might be of interest to teachers of Early American literature. Right now (2/25/99) the page has over 500 links divided mainly according to the organization scheme used in my bibliography of print materials above. (Edward J. Gallagher, Lehigh University)
Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events, pre-1620-1920: This timeline provides a short chronology of events in American history and literature. It is linked to course pages and bibliographies as well as to a set of more general linked resources: pages on American authors, literary movements, and American literature sites. Each author page contains a picture (if available), a bibliography (if available), links to major sites about the author, and links to works online. (Donna Campbell, Gonzaga University)
Reading, Response, and Discussion Questions: Questions designed to guide student reading and serve as prompts for written response assignments in "American Literature to 1865. " Authors included are: Columbus, Smith, Bradford, Winthrop, Bradstreet, Knight Rowlandson, Ashbridge, Franklin, Crevecoeur, Equiano, Murray, Foster, Seaver, Poe, Emerson, Douglass, Jacobs, and Melville. (Lisa Logan, University of Central Florida)
Student Web Projects
American Studies Students & Their Work: Students in American Civilization I at Georgetown University, using the Heath Anthology primarily, have created group projects on William Byrd, Women, Gender and Social Roles in the Colonial and Revolutionary Period, Quakers in 18th Century America, Religion and Identity, Boundaries of Freedom, Boundaries of Mobility, Social Constraint and the Assertion of the Individual, King Philip's War, Bacon's Rebellion, Witchcraft in Salem. (Randy Bass, Georgetown University)
"The Gigantic Question" in Washington Irving's History of New York: An "edition" of the chapter in Irving's work that subjects European justification for taking Native American land to ridicule. The goal was to give students a taste of one kind of "real" work scholars do. Diversity of approach was encouraged so the site can be used as a teaching tool, spurring discussion in future classes on what is effective web design and what isn't. Done in an upperlevel English class, Spring 1999. (Edward J. Gallagher, Lehigh University)
Images of Native America: From Columbus to Carlisle: Teacher and students each chose an image, wrote a relatively short "encyclopedia-type" essay on it, and then did individual web pages that were joined together. This was "first contact" with web technology for everybody. There was no attempt to standardize the individual pieces, so the final product (completed 5/98) contains a variety of approaches to format, color, images, links, and so forth that should make the site itself useful as a teaching tool. (Edward J. Gallagher, Lehigh University)
Jesuit Plantation Project: Maryland's Jesuit Plantations, 1650-1838: This project involves the conversion of the Maryland Province Archive to an electronic format. The archive contains over 200 years of personal, legal, and financial documents produced by the six Jesuit-owned plantations in Maryland. As an electronic archive project, the Jesuit Plantation Project is fully integrated with the American Studies Core Curriculum at Georgetown University. The students and faculty work collaboratively on the ongoing development of this site. (Randy Bass, Georgetown University).
Reel American History: This project, begun Fall 1999, is still a draft, very much under construction. Students in successive semesters will gradually build an archive of information on films about American history. Among the films of interest to SEA members are Last of the Mohicans, Pocahontas, Cabeza de Vaca, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, I, The Worst of All, Plymouth Adventure, Black Robe, With Daniel Boone Thru the Wilderness, The Last Supper. (Edward J. Gallagher, Lehigh University)
Student Projects Archive: Students in a sophomore-level survey class have been doing web projects on early American topics, including The Contrast and Kelroy. The best projects are archived here. (David Curtis, Belmont University)
Articles on Pedagogy
"A Talk Concerning First Beginnings: Teaching Native American Oral Literature," by Andrew Wiget
"Beyond the Anthology: Sources for Teaching Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Colonial Spanish Literature of North America," by E. Thomson Shields
"Engines of Inquiry: Teaching, Technology, and Learner-Centered Approaches to Culture and History,"by Randy Bass
"Recovering the Colonial, Beginning Again: Toward Multiculturalism in the Teaching of Early American Studies," by Carla Mulford
Writing Assignments: 15 writing assignments for the American literature survey, 1500-1860. (Alan Silva, Hamline University)
Major Projects: 20 options for a major project in the American literature survey, 1500-1860. (Alan Silva, Hamline University)
PhD Reading List: The minor field reading list for the PhD comprehensive examination at Lehigh University. (Edward J. Gallagher, Lehigh University)
Again, narrow your topic. However, you might consider thinking about when American writing became truly "American" and not just a copy of English/British writers. As suggested above, the short story in America is where many critics point that literature became original and truly "American" with a hint of savagery or adventure which was lacking in much of Europe since it had been settled for so many centuries. America was a new nation with new challenges to face, thus making the literature original, exciting, and titillating to the imagination.
You might also focus on the role of the female author in the 1800's, the role of religion in the literature of the time (which would be different depending on if you look at the northern or southern colonies), or focus on how many authors of the time show evidence of Romanticism (Poe, Irving, etc.) or Transcendentalism (Thoreau, Whitman, etc.) but are not alike in their approach or purpose.
Big topic...narrow it down, and Good Luck!