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Culture at the Turning Point

ENGL 083.001
instructor(s):
MWF 10:00

As we turn from the 20th century, we find ourselves, like utopian writer Edward Bellamy, "Looking Backward" to the turn from the 19th century. How did American writers, artists, and social thinkers respond to the variety of profound fin-de-siecle 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: Bellamy himself; English Arts and Crafts designer William Morris; realist William Dean Howells; regionalist Sarah Orne Jewett; historian Henry Adams; feminist Kate Chopin; sociologist W. E. B. DuBois; Native American Zitkala-Sa. We will examine such topics as the cultural significance of the settlement house, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Chicago World's Fair as well as an auxiliary array of muckrakers, immigrants, neurasthenics, aesthetes, architects, painters, photographers, poets, and engineers. Readings, oral presentations, several shorter comparative papers; a take-home midterm and final.