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HENRY JAMES

ENGL 383.301
instructor(s):
M 2-5:00

In the midst of the twentieth century's first Great War, Henry James (1843-1916) was ending a literary career that had begun by addressing the scarred landscape of Civil War. This course is an intensive study of James's short stories, travel writing, drama, literary essays, and novels, including The American (1877), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Bostonians (1886), What Maisie Knew (1897), The Ambassadors (1903), The Golden Bowl (1904), and The American Scene (1907). As we read and discuss his writing, we will consider journals such as The Atlantic Monthly in which contemporary readers first followed his narratives. Noticing the articles which appeared alongside James's serials and stories, we will develop a sense of the historical period in which he was writing. We also will consider James's frequent revision of his work, culminating in the twentieth century's New York Editions, and the contemporary revival of his work on the movie screen. While our focus is James's oeuvre, we will also consider the critical interpretations and reinterpretations of his life (Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, Leon Edel), and recent scholarly attention to theories of gender and sexuality (Fred Kaplan, Michael Moon, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), as well as to notions of race, nation, and culture (Nancy Bentley, Sara Blair, Ross Posnock, John Carlos Rowe, Kenneth Warren) that James's work has inspired. Given the length of the novels, students are encouraged to begin reading these texts (Penguin editions) over the summer.