This course will explore the connection of the issue of race to the cultural character and identity of citizens in the new American republic during the ante-bellum, and how it has subsequently affected our contemporary social and political culture and discourse. We will start with the question of what is American culture, and whether there is a discernable culture in our society. If so, what was the origin that culture? Reading will begin with James Fennimore Cooper's The Pioneers. By using the structure of this romance novel as a model, the class will view the founding of the United States as a formal problem, (not unlike the underlying problem posed in novel), in which the three principal racial groups in North America (i.e., the Native Americans, the European-Americans, and the African-Americans) sought to be included into the social and political order of the new republic. All subsequent readings will be viewed in the context of addressing that formal problem, with an emphasis on what the language and symbolism of fiction reveal about the actual historical events of the period. This is a seminar focused around class discussion of the reading materials.