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Topics in 19th Century American Literature

ENGL 283.301
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3

As we near the end of the 20th century, we find ourselves, like Edward Bellamy, "Looking Backward" to the end of the 19th century. How did American writers, artists, and social thinkers respond to the variety of profound turn-of-the-century cultural changes? What new forms of expression did they fashion to contain and contest their reactions and reflections? Among the figures who may engage our attention: Arts and Crafts designer William Morris; regionalist Sarah Orne Jewett; historian Henry Adams; realist William Dean Howells; social settlement founder Jane Addams; naturalist Theodore Dreiser; sociologist W. E. B. DuBois; feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. We may also examine such topics as the cultural significance of the Brooklyn Bridge and of the Chicago World's Fair and an array of muckrakers, immigrants, utopianists, neurasthenics, aesthetes, architects, painters, photographers, poets, and engineers. Readings, informal seminar presentations, brief response papers on each text, an individual topic designed around students' fields of interests.