E303 2503 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH, 1800-1900
10:20a-11:35a D (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
The course will introduce students to a range of writing by nineteenth-century British and American authors. The class will focus on the political, ethical, and aesthetic questions raised by the work we read. While we will look, in part, at the relationship between literature and social change, we will also examine how a number of nineteenth-century British and American authors implicitly and explicitly define the role of literature. We’ll think, too, about the differences made by reading transatlantically rather than nationally. We’ll get a sense of the variety of British and American nineteenth-century literature as we move from the theory and practice of British romantic poetry to an account of slavery, from Dickens on crime, childhood, and the city to one of Hawthorne’s experiments in romance, and from Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” to conflicting accounts of life in late nineteenth-century New York. We’ll end with a proto-modernist horror story by Henry James. The issues we will discuss include: slavery, the politics and poetics of democracy and individualism, immigration, the city as promise and as problem, ideals of womanhood and manhood. I’ve not chosen any of the door-stopper size novels that characterize 19th-century literature, but the reading load is still heavy at times, and I encourage you to read Dickens, Fern, and Jacobs before we reach the weeks for which they are assigned.
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Penguin)
Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall (Rutgers)
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Harvard)
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (Penguin)
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855) (Penguin)
Material on e-reserve by: Cahan, Coleridge, Crane, Emerson, Hawthorne, Wordsworth.
Three open-book exams. Students will write one essay in each exam. Questions will be distributed in advance and you will be able to bring the text you’re writing about to the exam. One typed essay that is a minimum of 6-8 double spaced pages in length. The typed essay will be a revision and extension of one of the first two essays you write for an exam. Three brief typed responses to reading questions posted at Oncourse. You will post your responses at Oncourse, too. A library research exercise. Class participation.