Literatures in English, 1800-1900 Gareth Evans
The course will introduce students to a range of writing by nineteenth-century British and American authors. The class will focus on the political, ethical, and aesthetic questions raised by the work we read. While we will look, in part, at the relationship between literature and social change, we will also examine how a number of nineteenth-century British and American authors implicitly and explicitly define the role of literature. We'll think, too, about the differences made by reading transatlantically rather than nationally. We'll get a sense of the variety of British and American nineteenth-century literature as we move from the theory and practice of British romantic poetry to fictional and non-fictional accounts of slavery, from Dickens on industrialism to one of Hawthorne's experiments in romance, and from Whitman's "barbaric yawp" to conflicting accounts of life in late nineteenth-century cities. We'll end with a proto-modernist horror story by Henry James. The issues we will discuss include: slavery, the politics and poetics of democracy and individualism, immigration, the city as promise and as problem, ideals of womanhood and manhood. while I will lecture occasionally, I expect all the students who take the course to make regular thoughtful contributions to class discussion.
Required texts: Charles Dickens, Hard Times, Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, Arthur Morrison, A Child of the Jago, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855). Material on e-reserve is likely to include poetry and/or prose by the following authors: Crane, Cahan, Emerson, Hawthorne, Irvine, Jewett, Keats, Melville, Shelley, Wordsworth.
Assignments: Two 6-8 page essays, and essay exam, frequent 1 page writing assignments, a ten question library exercise.