The purpose of this class is to analyze seminal texts by 19th century American writers. It will focus primarily but not exclusively on Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry James, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin and others. It will argue the centrality of novels such as The Scarlet Letter in the development of American literature; it will discuss the importance of “Benito Cereno” and Huck Finn in the discussion of race relations and it will draw attention to The Awakening as a proto-feminist text. At the same time, it will connect such texts with the literary currents of the second half of the 19th century, but also with American traditional modes of writing.
Course Content (Syllabus)
All texts are from the Norton Anthology of American Literature 8th edition, volumes B and C.
Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter (1850).
Herman Melville. “Benito Cereno” (1855-56).
Mark Twain. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
Kate Chopin. The Awakening (1899).