L352 AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1865-1914
9:05a-9:55a MWF (# students) 3 cr. A&H.
TOPIC: “Henry James”
In this course we will read a representative selection of the novels and tales of Henry James. We will also read two of James’s better known critical essays, as well as the retrospective Prefaces James wrote to accompany much of the fiction we will be reading. A major theoretician of the novel, James sought to convince his contemporaries that fiction was, potentially, a major art form, and that novelists might be great artists. While his early work is realist, much of James’s late work points towards the concerns and formal features of modernism. The late fiction is difficult, but a semester of reading James should make it accessible. James is frequently concerned with the manners and morals of the late nineteenth-century American and European elite. Our reading of James will be largely self-contained. We will focus on the changing use James makes of the following formal devices and themes: point-of- view, the role of the writer or artist, the desire for renown, the international theme.
In class participation, two 6-8 page essays, an exam, a short presentation on an aspect of secondary criticism, a series of responses to prompts intended to initiate class discussion.
Reading: “Daisy Miller,” “An International Episode,” “Four Meetings,” “The Art of Fiction,” The American, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, “The Aspern Papers,” “The Real Thing,” “The Lesson of Balzac,” What Maisie Knew, The Ambassadors, “The Beast in the Jungle.” Please contact the instructor about the books to be bought for the class.