Fall 2007

HUMS 639
American Realism


09/20/2007 - 12/13/2007
Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Downey 100

A seminar on some of the major developments in American literature from 1865-1910, this course will focus on the movement for a new realist novel that transformed American fiction in the late 19th-century. We will consider the way the new theories and styles of fiction that come to the fore in the post-bellum era compared to contemporaneous developments in the visual arts and in American social thought and philosophy. We will also make an effort to consider the way the realist movement was shaped by its historical and social contexts. Among the factors that will be considered in this light will be developments in the institutions of publishing and literary vocation and the way such developments were influenced by the rapid, post-Civil-War expansion of an industrial and corporate economy.

Possible major texts include works by Ambrose Bierce, George Washington Cable, Charles Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, Rebecca Harding Davis, Theodore Dreiser, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Hamlin Garland, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, Jack London, Frank Norris, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

For the first class meeting, students should have read Howells, A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES.

In observance of Rosh HaShanah (Thursday, September 13th), this course will begin one week later on Thursday, September 20, 2007.

Sean McCann (B.A. Georgetown University; Ph.D. City University of New York) is professor of English and American studies. He is author of A Pinnacle of Feeling: American Literature and Presidential Government, (Princeton University Press, 2008) and Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism (Duke University Press, 2000). He was awarded Wesleyan's 2004 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Click here for more information about Sean McCann.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
George Washington Cable, THE GRANDISSIMES (Penguin), Paperback

Charles Chesnutt, THE MARROW OF TRADITION (Michigan University Press), Paperback

Stephen Crane, GREAT SHORT WORKS (Harper Perennial), Paperback

Theodore Dreiser, THE FINANCIER (Plume), Paperback

William Dean Howells, A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES (Modern Library), Paperback

Henry James, PORTRAIT OF A LADY (Penguin), Paperback

Sarah Orne Jewett, COUNTRY OF THE POINTED FIRS (Signet), Paperback

Mark Twain, ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (Penguin), Paperback


Register for Courses

Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459