Honors | Novel Genders: American Prose from 1790-1900 (HON)
H203 | 27149 | Gareth Evans
In this course, we will read a selection of American fiction and non-
fictional prose written between the 1790s and 1900, a period of
great literary and historical change. The course is, in part, an
introduction to the varieties of fiction—epistolary, sentimental,
gothic, romance, realist, naturalist—written between 1790 and 1900.
We’ll give our reading a consistent focus, however, by concentrating
primarily on what the texts we read have to say about gender.
Writers and readers during this time began to think in new ways
about how men and women should act. The texts we read indicate some
of the ways writers participated in shaping new ideals of manhood
and womanhood. The ideals I’m speaking of here are generally said to
be middle-class; the ideals are, that is to say, those of the
audience most likely to have read the books and stories we will
ourselves read. We will be concerned with how such ideals
simultaneously offer middle-class readers freedom and constraint.
We will examine, too, how the limits of gender ideals are revealed
in texts that focus not on middle-class heterosexual couples, but
that look instead at the all male world of one of Melville’s many
ships, or that focus on a woman slave, or on a bachelor seated by
his fireside, or on women who worked in the Lowell cotton mills.
Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Washington Irving, (Selections TBA)
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Henry James, Daisy Miller
Lowell Mill Girls, excerpts from the Voice of Industry.
Ik Marvel, Reveries of a Bachelor (excerpts).
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, “The Paradise of Bachelors and the
Tartarus of Maids.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
•Attendance and participation in discussion and in-class activities.
•Two four-six page essays, one six to eight page essay. One of the
shorter essays may be revised.
•Four or five two page commentaries and a number of in-class writing
exercises about issues raised by the texts.
•A library exercise that will test your ability to find material in
IUCAT and a variety of subject-specific online databases.