E303 12500 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH, 1800-1900
9:30a-10:45a TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
The American nineteenth century was an era of Westward expansion, high idealism, and national coming-to-consciousness, in the joint contexts of rampant racism and triumphant materialism. Across the Atlantic, in Britain, the century witnessed the apogee of Imperial dominance and industrial power, and the world's first and most resonating eruptions of urban squalor and scientific disturbance, leading to widespread religious doubt; while cracks began to appear in rigid Victorian gender ideology. This course weaves back and forth between the two countries (with one foray into Australia) to explore such topics as: Nature and the sublime in the Romantic Revolution; American self-making and the abyss of race; sex, class, and British identity; democracy; historicism and revolution; nineteenth-century psychology; celebrity, theatre, and mass entertainment; landscape and destiny in the American West; faith, doubt, and the “death of God”; Imperial gothic; and the transatlantic fin de siècle. Authors and texts include Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities), Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles), Mark Twain (Roughing It), and the dime novel Deadwood Dick, together with the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and a substantial selection from Francis Parkman’s unique travelogue The Oregon Trail, as well as poems, stories, and prose works by Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lord Tennyson, Bret Harte, Nathanial Hawthorne, Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allen Poe. Classes will alternate between formal lectures (some multi-media) and open discussion—to which end every class member is required to post a discussion question to the class e-mail list every week. Two mid-terms (short questions and passage for analysis); two papers (one short, one long); cumulative final exam (short questions, passage, comparative essay).