Spring 2009

HUMS 639
American Literature and Culture, 1865-1919


01/29/2009 - 05/07/2009
Thursday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

285 Court Street

Special Schedule: July 4th Holiday makeup class will be held Friday, July 6 from 6:00-9:00pm.

This course is a survey of the major developments in American literature in one of its most vibrant and tumultuous periods--the years from the Gilded Age through World War I. This was the period in which the modern United States was made and a modern American literature arose along with it. As the country moved rapidly in the decades following the Civil War from an agricultural society divided into various regions and local communities toward becoming an urbanized, industrial society joined by a national market and the mass media, American writers responded with a striking range of literary innovations and artistic movements. We will investigate some of the important cultural developments of the period, paying particular attention to the way stylistic experiments in literature interacted with movements in the other arts and considering the diverse ways American artists sought to make sense of their dynamic world.

Sources to be studied include works by Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, William Dean Howells, Jack London, Frank Norris, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton.

Students will be graded on several short essays and a term paper, 10-15 pages in length.

This course is open to auditors.

For the first class meeting, students should have read Edward Bellamy's LOOKING BACKWARD and "Chickamauga" by Ambrose Bierce.

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:

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