The Great American Novel. No other country is as obsessed with finding a quintessential expression of its identity through the form of the novel. In this class, we will be exploring the various competing ways in which the novel has been used to construct a sense of a national identity, in the absence of a unified, ancient culture to appeal to. Each of the novels we will be reading address specific aspects of America's culture evolution and natural character. As such, we will be exploring several of the major themes of America's history, including Westward expansion, big business in New York, Puritanism, and the Civil War.