English | American Literature 1800-1900
L653 | 25919 | Fleissner

L653  25919  FLEISSNER (#4)
American Literature 1800-1900

1:00p– 2:15p TR


This class takes as its presupposition that feminist theory and
criticism has had a shaping impact on the past 20-odd years of
American literary studies that goes beyond work on women’s writing
and arguments directly announcing themselves as feminist
interventions.  The emergence and/or reconception of a wide range of
core sites for ongoing inquiry—such as sentiment, the body, kinship,
regionalist writing, the “sisterhood of reforms,” spiritualism,
consumerism, sexuality, diet, children’s literature and child study,
domesticity, the rise of the social sciences, and many others—owe a
debt, albeit one not always acknowledged, to the advent of feminist
approaches.  This course admits that debt and aims to survey the
field of American literary and cultural studies from roughly 1800
through the early 20th century through the lens that it provides.
It is thus aimed both at students hoping to work on American
literature of this broad period, irrespective of critical
orientation, as well as at those in other fields with an interest in
the varying ways that feminist criticism has influenced the kinds of
questions scholars ask.

We will read both canonical authors whose work has been positioned
anew by the approaches in question (such as Melville, Dickinson,
Brockden Brown, Dreiser) as well as more recently rediscovered works
that have either become central texts for scrutiny or might become
so as a result of their contributions (such as Hannah Webster
Foster's The Coquette, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin,
Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Sarah Orne
Jewett's Country of the Pointed Firs, Pauline Hopkins’s Contending
Forces, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland). Alongside the literary
texts, we will read a generous selection of influential recent
criticism by such writers as Elizabeth Dillon, Lauren Berlant, Cindy
Weinstein, Gillian Brown, Wai Chee Dimock, Bill Brown, Nancy
Bentley, Claudia Tate, Rita Felski, James Livingston, and others.
The primary work of the class will be reading and discussion. In
addition, students will be expected to produce several short
response papers, as well as a conference-length (10-12 pp.) essay at
the end of the term.