*Crumbling Idols,* the title of an l894 essay collection that forecast trends in late l9th century American literature and art, serves succinctly as a theme for this course. We will examine how various areas of social life were affected by cultural, economic, and political changes and how those changes were registered in the writing of the period. Readings include realistic and naturalistic authors such as William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Abraham Cahan, Henry James, Frank Norris, and Jack London; local colorists and feminists such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, and Hamlin Garland; critics and commentators such as Edward Bellamy, Henry Adams, and W. E. B. DuBois. We will also take a look at several poets and artists as well as the theoretical debate over realism, its aims and practice. Several papers of varying lengths and intentions, class participation, possible oral presentations and mid-term, take-home final.