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19th-Century American Novel

ENGL 255.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major

As one of the more accessible, and therefore more democratic, literary forms, the novel held a privileged place in the nineteenth-century United States. Reading both popular and lesser-known novels written between 1794 and 1900, we will ask ourselves what nineteenth-century novels were (as well as what contemporary readers thought they were), and what relation they held to the changing nation. Throughout the semester we will discuss the place these works held in the construction and testing of the United States’ social, cultural, and political boundaries. Among other novels, we will read Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Dred, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady, Pauline Hopkin’s Contending Forces, and Charles Chestnutt’s House Behind the Cedars.