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Speculation: American Futures

ENGL 200.305
MW 5-6:30


Late 19th-Century American literature saw the rise, proliferation and cross-contamination of realism and speculative fiction. Here we find realist novels concerned with finance sitting side-by-side with “weird fiction” relishing in anti-modernism, psychological horror, and unknowable phenomena. It is a body of literature deeply concerned with what the future might look like.  We will consider how speculation in the market—a hedging of the future with unknown, specious, and fictitious returns—shaped this literary speculation. Texts will include novels by Edward Bellamy, Mark Twain, Pauline Hopkins, Jack London, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman as well as short stories by Robert Chambers, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and H.P. Lovecraft.


English 200 is designed to introduce students to skills and methods integral to literary studies. As such, we'll explore historicism and archival research, cultural studies, dialectical materialism, the changing usages of words over time, and language itself. Assignments will include exercises, discussion posts, short papers, a presentation, and a final essay.

fulfills requirements
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Junior Research Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major