English | Literature and Society
L779 | 24797 | Gutjahr


11:15a  2:15p R
Offered with AMST G751

TOPIC: (RE)FORMING THE UNITED STATES: AMERICA IN THE 1850S

Everything seemed to be falling apart in the United States in the
1850s.  In fact, many wondered if Aunited@ was a word that could be
in any way used to characterize a nation torn apart by regional,
political, racial, economic and religious differences.  The United
States was a country built on a diversity which came from massive
immigration, an indigenous Native American population, and the
Apeculiar@ and vexed institution of slavery.  Agreements on the
definition of the nation and its trajectory were disintegrating in
the 1850s, and just how varied the views were would find their most
vivid expression in the bloodbath of the Civil War.  This course
will offer the all-too-rare luxury of intensively studying a brief
period of time using a diverse array of source material (art, music,
scientific treatises, reform tracts, autobiography, religious
doctrine, cartography, literature, fashion, etiquette manuals,
architecture, landscape design, etc.) in an attempt to appreciate
and begin to unravel the complexity and confluence of various
cultural expressions that forced a nation apart and would ultimately
mark how it was forced to come back together.

Students will be expected to participate in, and help lead, class
discussions.  Two shorter papers and one longer research paper will
be required along with the reading in this course.

Suggestions are welcome, but authors and texts might include the
following:

Herman Melville, Horace Bushnell, Timothy Shay Arthur, Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe,
P.T. Barnum, Fanny Fern, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass,
Catharine Beecher, Anna Mowatt, Thomas Cole, Henry Longfellow,
Godey=s Lady=s Book, Red Cloud, Ik Marvel.  We may well also be
looking at various painters, sculptors, entertainers, and newspapers.

The first class session will have a reading assignment, so if you
sign up for this course, please contact the professor before the
beginning of the semester to find out the exact nature of the
assignment.