E303 24456 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH 1800-1900
11:15a-12:30p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
TOPIC: “Migrants, Vagrants, and Tourists”
Whether they did their writing in London, Calcutta, Nantucket, or Wabash, Indiana, writers during the nineteenth century felt themselves to be inhabiting a new, modern world: a world in which all things—people, trade goods, bags of mail, railway engines, and steamships—were in motion. Moving in time from 1782 to 1888, and moving in space back and forth across the Atlantic (with side trips around the Horn of Africa, and north via the underground railroad), this course examines the various, often conflicting ways in which nineteenth-century men and women came to connect a sense of personal identity to the experience of dislocation. This course also tracks the travels of books themselves, since this was a century in which books as well as people ceased to know their place. Colonial administrators in British India made English "nature poetry" and English "domestic fiction" (domestic no more) part of the baggage they took overseas. And these and other texts began to find their way into the possession of readers for whom they were not intended, literary eavesdroppers like the young Frederick Douglass, whose discovery of the Columbian Orator, he later wrote, "gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul."
To keep up with this migration, vagrancy, and tourism, we will necessarily range widely in our own reading. This class will therefore make ample use of the library's electronic reserve system. Texts to be discussed this semester will likely include essays and "sketches" by Charles Lamb, Washington Irving, and Ralph Waldo Emerson; autobiographical writings by John Clare, Frederick Douglass, and Zitkala-Sa; travel writings by Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur and Emily Eden; poetry by William Wordsworth, John Clare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Emma Lazarus; novels and short stories by Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. I will also be asking you to attend a couple of movie nights. Please contact me by e-mail in November or December if you plan to get a head start on the reading and I'll provide specific titles.
Requirements: careful reading; diligent attendance; participation in discussion; two 6-8 page papers; a research exercise that will take us into the bowels of the libraries and to other exotic locales; several briefer (1-page) writing assignments.