ENG 233 American Literature from 1865-1914

Richard Millington, M W F 10:00 AM-10:50 AM

 This course will explore the work of American writers as they set out to write the inner history of their turbulent times.  We will spend some time on the poetry of the period, but will focus our attention on fictional works that engage, with particular imaginative power, the following themes:  the shaping of character and emotional life; the yearning for freedom in the face of social constraint; the moral meanings of urban life; the operation of racial categories; the shape of women’s lives.  In our class discussions, we will strive to be alert both to the specific ways these texts respond to the conditions of their era—and to what is moving, beautiful, disturbing, or demanding in the way they speak to us today.

 The final reading list will include most—but, alas, not all—of the following texts:

 A sampling of the poetry of the period

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham

Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

Stephen Crane, Maggie, a Girl of the Streets, selected short fiction

Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition or The Conjure Woman and other stories

Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Sui Sin Far, Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Stories

 I will lecture briefly from time to time, but we will do most of our work in discussion (with clearly-defined goals).  Written work will probably include two interpretive essays (5-6 pages each), a midterm, and a final examination.

 This course is open to all students; some experience in writing college-level literary analysis is recommended.