ENG 351: Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature (Sample ... 351: Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature (Sample…

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  • ENG 351: Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature (Sample Syllabus)

    Bulletin Description: A study in the literatures and cultures of the nineteenth-century United States. Topics may include Romanticism, individualism, ecology, aesthetics, gender, imperialism, regionalism, frontier and territorial expansion, scientific advancement, slavery, and the Civil War.

    Course Description: This course addresses the complex literary, political, historical, and social transformations of the nineteenth century in the United States. We will structure our readings around the contending definitions of four thematic concerns: kinship; race and visuality; periodization; and free love. We will pair these four sections with related questions about critical methodology, canon, and disciplinary focus. By examining how writers grappled with these issues and how recent scholarship has chosen to frame them we will consider how American letters engage, negotiate, and continually rework their cultural materials to address the changing interests of a U.S. readership, and how a self-reflexive approach to literary criticism can make us better scholars.

    In the first unit, well examine the contested question of kinship by studying how understandings of social relationships were informed by the complicated intersection of race and womens reproduction. In the second unit, well focus more explicitly on scholarly methodology and the question of canon. By drawing on a recent forum in J19: Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists on race and visuality, we will consider how recent critical developments can help us read some canonical nineteenth-century texts in new ways. A better understanding of the discipline of nineteenth-century literary studies will come to our aid in the third section on periodization. In the middle of the semester well reconsider how and whether 1865the date that marks the end of the Civil Warshould inform a critical understanding of nineteenth-century literary culture, and to what degree that periodization should in turn inform American literature courses and anthologies. Well end by reading Walt Whitmans well-known Leaves of Grass against some noncanonical novels by thinking about the how issue of free lovea newly emerging concept in the mid-nineteenth centuryinforms these works.

    Course Goals

    Students will learn about some of the major questions and issues animating current scholarship in nineteenth-century American literature.

    Students will learn about some of the political, cultural, and social issues that influenced nineteenth-century American literature.

    Students will learn how to write, research, and engage in scholarly conversations about nineteenth-century American literature.

    Assignments and Grades

  • Essay 1: 10% Essay 2: 20% Essay 3 (research paper): 30% Participation and In-Class Assignments: 20%

    Reading Schedule

    Unit 1: Kinship

    Week 1: Introduction, Kate Chopins Desires Baby (1893) and Alys Eve Weinbaums Genealogy Unbound: Reproduction and Contestation of the Racial Nation

    Week 2: First Settlers of New-England: or, Conquest of the Pequods, Narragansets and Pokanokets. As related by a mother to her children (1829) and The Lone Indian (1828) by Lydia Maria Child and Ryan, Melissa. Republican Mothers and Indian Wives: Lydia Maria Child's Indian Stories. ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 56.1 (2010): 33- 70.

    Week 3: Edgar Allan Poes The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), Nathaniel Hawthornes My Kinsman Major Molineux (1831) and secondary source TBD.

    Unit 2: Race and Visuality

    Week 4: Herman Melville, Benito Cereno (1855)

    Week 5: Forum on Race and Visuality in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 3.1 (Spring 2015). Introduction by Shirley Samuels and Visualizing Race Science in Benito Cereno by Christine Yao.

    Week 6: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin (1852) and Black, Alex. Uncle Toms Cabin and the Archives of Racial Performance. J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 3.1 (Spring 2015): 138- 146.

    Week 7: Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

    Unit 3: Periodization

    Week 8: Hager, Christopher and Marrs, Cody. Against 1865: Reperiodizing the Nineteenth Century. J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 1.2 (Fall 2013): 259- 284.

    Week 9: Mark Twain, Puddnhead Wilson (1894) and selected speeches of Abraham Lincoln (1858- 1865).

    Week 10: Harriet Wilsons Our Nig (1859)

  • Unit 4: Free Love Week 11: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)

    Week 12: Jackson, Holly. The Marriage Trap in the Free-Love Novel and Queer Critique. American Literature 87.4 (2015): 681-708 and Mary Gove Nichols's Mary Lyndon (1855)

    Week 13: Marie Howland's Papa's Own Girl (1874).

    Week 14: Review and preparation for research paper


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