E 340 • The American Novel Before 1920
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
This survey of the early American novel will emphasize the diversity--and the depravity--of the first one hundred years of novel writing in the United States. We will read both familiar and unfamiliar authors, and pay particular attention to issues of popularity and reception. Why did these novels command such a large audience of readers? What social and cultural changes did these novels both reflect and help produce? Along the way we'll encounter an array of narrative techniques and great generic diversity. The eclectic reading list promises, among other things, the picaresque, the travel narrative, romance, realism, sentimentalism, courtroom dramas, forensic evidence, race riots, adultery, cannibalism, "deviant" sexuality, disgrace, and America's first spontaneous combustion.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of two short papers (3-5 pages), in-class participation, and a final exam.
2 Essays 20% each
Participation (i.e., attendance, response papers, presentations, reading quizzes) 30%
Final exam 30%
Note: the early American novel is not known for its brevity. This will be a reading-intensive course. Students are expected to have read and be able to discuss each day's reading assignment. Attendance is mandatory; repeated unexcused absences will affect your grade.
Brown, Wieland; Or the Transformation (Penguin; 0140390790)
Child, Hobomok (Rutgers; 081351164X)
Kirkland, New Home, Who'll Follow? (Rutgers; 0813515424)
Melville, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (Penguin; 0140434887)
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Norton; 0393979539)
Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Or, Life Among the Lowly (Penguin; 0140390030)
Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (Penguin; 0140390308)
Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (Penguin; 0140430407)
Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition (Penguin; 0140186867)