This course offers a survey of United States literature in the later nineteenth century, a period defined by intense shifts across cultural, political, and economic landscapes that were accompanied by radical transformations of the built environment. As we study a wide range of fiction and poetry from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the twentieth century, we will consider the ways in which literary texts participated in struggles over racial orders, definitions of gender and sexuality, polarities of wealth, and principles of American democracy and citizenship. We will explore key concepts and competing definitions of realism, naturalism, and regionalism in the context of post-Civil War reconstruction and segregation, westward expansion and the so-called closure of the frontier, industrialism and urban growth, patterns of immigration and anti-immigration policies, and the rise of U.S. imperialism. Throughout this course, our study of literary composition and production will be accompanied by explorations into photography, painting, architecture, and urban planning.
Readings will include works by Emily Dickinson, Edward Bellamy, Henry James, Charles Chestnutt, Mark Twain, Sui Sin Far, Zitkala-Sa, William Dean Howells, Frances Harper, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, and W.E.B. DuBois. Requirements for the course: a midterm exam, two papers, and a final exam.