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Gender Reconstruction: American Manhood and Womanhood after the Civil-War

ENGL 583.301
instructor(s):
M 12-3

This course will examine gender constructions in the era of US Reconstruction and its aftermath. In *The Bostonians*, Henry James recast the War between the States as a war between the sexes. In doing so, he recognized links between gender and national identities, intersections that have been explored more recently in a rich body of contemporary theory and cultural criticism. Reading assignments will match some of these theoretical and cultural essays with works of fiction by a wide range of postbellum writers. In the wake of an abolished slave system, the re-construction of gender was intimately tied to race relations. We will consider the importance of technology and obsessions about the body in representations of subjectivity. We will look at the central models of womanhood--the actress, the prostitute, the divorcee--through which women were represented in the marketplace. Energies of imperialism, commodity consumption, and progressive reform also helped to direct literary and cultural practice in this era. Readings will include works by Pauline Hopkins, Stephen Crane, Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, Sui Sin Far, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Owen Wister, Edith Wharton, Frances Harper, Theodore Dreiser, and Mark Twain. Students will be required to write one short paper and one long paper.

Note: Undergraduate majors who are seniors and who have for some reason not yet satisfied the English 200 requirement may use *this* course to do so. In any case, advanced undergraduate majors may take this and other 500-level courses.