E 395M • American Lit Realism, 1881-1929
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
We will focus on selected works from the three interrelated genres mentioned above, all of which rose to prominence in United States literature towards the end of the nineteenth century. In exploring this literature, we will (strive to) interweave political, historical, theoretical, and formal/aesthetic concerns. What relation do realism, regionalism, and naturalism bear, for instance, to "crises" in cultural definitions of "masculinity" and "femininity" around the turn of the century? Why have realism and the middle classes been so tightly linked? How do "whiteness" and white liberalism function in these texts? In what ways does literary realism both participate in and critique the historical movement towards building not only a continental but an overseas U.S. empire? What does it mean, anyway, to represent the really "real"? What sorts of authorial voices do we tend to find in these different genres? How do representations of dialect differ from author to author, and with what effects? In addition to the primary course texts, a packet of secondary readings will include pieces by Eric Sundquist, Amy Kaplan, Walter Benn Michaels, Toni Morrison, and other critics.
Some Tentative Texts Stephen Crane, Maggie and Selected Stories Henry James, The Princess Cassamassima Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson Frances E. W. Harper, Iola Leroy William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes Hamlin Garland, Main-Travelled Roads Sara Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales and The Marrow of Tradition Kate Chopin, The Awakening Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie Penguin Mary Wilkins Freeman, Selected Stories