ENGH 442: Topics: American Literary Periods
ENGH 442-001: Post-Civl War American Lit
Section Information for Fall 2017
The "Gilded Age," as Mark Twain called it, was an era of drastic economic change, U.S. imperial expansion, increased immigration, and continued conflict between races and regions. It was in this era (1865-1915) that an increasingly diverse group of American authors began publishing literature, adding their voices to the cultural debate regarding what the United States had been and what it might become as it moved into the twentieth century. One of the most pressing issues of the age had to do with definitions of citizenship and civil rights: what was to become of the newly enfranchised black man and his black sisters? the increasingly well-educated white woman demanding the vote? the many new immigrants arriving daily on each coast?
This period was the age of realism, wherein writers were interested in representing the “common man” in supposedly realistic scenarios. In this course we will investigate how the aesthetic commitments of realism intersected with larger debates about national identity and personhood. We will read works by canonical writers such as Henry James, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and Walt Whitman as well as works by lesser-known authors such as African-American fiction writer Charles Chesnutt, Lakota writer, musician, and activist Zitkála-Šá, and African American teacher and playwright, Angelina Weld Grimké. Grading will be based primarily on participation, essays, and a research project wherein students will seek to connect one issue of the Gilded Age to an issue of our own time.
Satisfies the English BA requirement for the concentration in fiction.
Satisfies the English BA core requirement in literature before 1915.
Satisfies the English BA core requirement in minority, folkloric, or popular literary and cultural traditions.
Course Information from the University Catalog
In-depth study of selected period of American literature. In addition to literary examples, materials may be chosen from art, philosophy, or popular culture of time. Notes: May be repeated when topic is different with permission of department. May be repeated within the term for a maximum 6 credits.
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