From Seduction to Civil War: The Early U.S. Novel|
Spring 2012 not offered
|Certificates: Social, Cultural and Critical Theory|
This course examines the relationship between nation and narrative: the collective fantasies that incited reading and writing into the 19th century. We will study the novel as a field of literary production both in dialogue with European models and expressive of changes in national culture, a form that both undermined and reinforced dominant ideologies of racial, gender, and class inequality during this turbulent period of national formation and imperial expansion. We will consider the ways the pleasure of novel-reading depends upon, even as it often disavows, the world outside the story. Throughout our reading, we will trace the ways these novels both reflect and participate in the historical development of the U.S. during a period that spans national founding, the consolidation of northern capitalism and an exacerbated North/South division, expansion into Mexico and the Pacific, and civil war. Through close attention to literary form, we will continually pose the question, What is the relationship between literary culture and historical change? We will examine who was writing, for whom they wrote, and the situation--political, commercial--in which "the American novel" was produced and consumed. We will begin with the novel of sentiment and seduction and conclude with reflections on slavery and racial revolution on the eve of the Civil War, all the time asking about the ways the novel might seduce us into either tolerating or resisting the way of the world.
Students will interpret key novels from the early U.S. to understand the ways literary culture reflects and participates in social and political problems, and they will write essays that attend closely to the relationship between the texts and the world that shaped them.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)(ENGL)(ENGL-Amer Lit)(ENGL-TLF Conc)
Novels or excerpts of novels by Samuel Richardson, William Hill Brown, Susanna Rowson, Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, Sylvester Judd, Herman Melville, Fanny Fern, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Delany.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Two essays (5-7pp. and 10-12pp.), four short reading exercises (3pp. each). Students will pair up for in-class presentations.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Field trip to Special Collections in Olin Library.
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