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Undergraduate English Courses

358:341 Antebellum American Literature

01  MW4  CAC  17370   JONES   MU-204

Many scholars believe that a classic American literature first emerged in the antebellum era, that is, from about 1830 to 1860. This course surveys literary works from the period to explore several of the sociological concerns, critical terms, and expressive features that preoccupied writers, critics, and readers at the time. We will explore how authors used the literary to contemplate, if not intervene in, the cultural and political turmoil that characterized the U.S.’s march toward Civil War. More specifically, we consider how literature and print culture allowed Americans to grapple with several primary contradictions that shaped nineteenth-century American life: individualism alongside social conformity; urbanization alongside the adoration of, and retreat to, nature; market values alongside austerity and religiosity; the ideal of freedom and the practices of chattel slavery and Native American removal. Readings will include works by: Poe, Melville, Dickinson, Douglass, Stowe, Whitman, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Truth, and others.

Requirements: two short papers, readings quizzes and in-class writing exercises, and a final exam