Literature of Dissent, 1776-1900: Reading, Resisting, and Redefining the United States
Americans often date the founding of their nation back to a document, The Declaration of Independence. This course will begin with revolutionary documents such as The Declaration and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and continue to examine the ways that American authors used novels, poetry, autobiography and essays throughout the 19th century to continue to shape the United States as a nation committed to equality and human rights. The course will focus on how literature attempted to influence public policy and individual feelings, examining these works both as literature and historical documents. Readings will include Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition as well as selected poems and short stories.