English | American Literature 1865-1914
L352 | 23768 | Jennifer Fleissner

L352 23768 AMERICAN LITERATURE 1865-1914
Jennifer Fleissner

1:00p-2:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

This course provides a survey of American literature (mostly
fiction) during the late nineteenth and turn into the twentieth
century, a period in which the nation, with dizzying speed,
became “modern” in many of the key senses with which we understand
the term today.  That is, these years saw the rise of great cities;
massive industrialization (and concomitant clashes between organized
labor and American capitalism’s first notorious “robber barons,” as
well as jarring economic swings); the great waves of immigration;
the spread of mass media (including national-circulation magazines,
dime novels, and early film); the invention of the telephone,
typewriter, and telegraph; middle-class women’s movement into the
workplace and higher education; the assaults on conventional belief
systems made by Darwinian evolution and, later, Freudian psychology—
all of these in the context of the crushing defeat of post-Civil War
Reconstruction, new segregationist legislation, rampant lynching in
the South, and the defiant emergence of the first highly visible
group of free, educated African-American writers committed
to “uplifting the race.”
Literary histories tend to define this period as the one in
which “realist” and “naturalist” modes of representation emerged in
opposition to the “romance” modes said to typify the writings of an
earlier generation (Hawthorne, Melville, etc.)—as well as in
continued opposition to the popular sentimental fiction that the
romancers also abhorred.  We'll examine both what is true about this
representation of the era and what it may leave out (renewed
interest in the Gothic, early moves toward modernism, etc.) by
reading the work of such writers as James, Twain, Crane, Jewett,
Freeman, Chopin, Hopkins, Gilman, Wharton, Norris, Chesnutt, and