Looking Out: U. S. Literature and the Global Nineteenth-Century
The first several decades of U.S. literature came during a strange moment when the U.S. was both a relatively weak former colony and an imperial force. As important as apparently internal politics were for U.S. writers, nineteenth-century literature was always caught up in the world outside the U.S. and in the unstable identity of the country itself. This course will focus on how U.S. authors and readers imagined the globe and their place within that broader world. Some of the specific international relationships that we’ll consider are the U.S.’s anxieties and ongoing attachments to Britain, the rise of nationalism and U.S. investment in Native American culture, Orientalism and early depictions of Islam, and the U.S.’s connections to the rest of the Americas. Texts will include “The Man without a Country,” The Algerine Captive, Charles Dickens’s writings on Philadelphia, A Colored Man Abroad, and Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad.