American Literature 1800-1865

10:10a-11:00a MWF (70) 3 cr.

This course focuses on one of the most exciting and creative periods in American literary history. It begins in the period of national formation and ends with the Civil War. The course will survey a range of texts from the period, with particular attention to the relation of literary imagination to the processes of national self-definition, imperial expansion, and political conflagration. This topic necessarily entails the treatment of racial identity and class formation as well as conceptions of domesticity and authorship. Complementary to the investigation of such substantive issues, the course will look at the various ways in which American authors attempted to distinguish their work formally from earlier models of the literary. I will also try to incorporate some discussion of other arts of the period, including painting and popular theatre. Authors will be drawn from among the following: Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, Edgar Allan Poe, Lydia Maria Child, James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Wilson, and Walt Whitman.

This is a lecture course. In addition to the reading, requirements will include brief informal writing assignments/quizzes, two formal papers, and two exams.