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76-230 19th Century American Literature
Throughout the Nineteenth Century, the United States was engaged in the often difficult process of defining itself culturally. This process took the form of conversations, sometimes fiercely contested, around certain issues. When Walt Whitman, in 1855, declared that the United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem, he established a link between these cultural conversations and the literature of the new nation which or fathers brought forth on this continent. This course will explore the interrelationship between the literature of Nineteenth Century America and the conversations surrounding such cultural issues as growing urbanization, sexuality, gender roles, religion, race, slavery and war. We will read essays, poems, short stories and novels by authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Stowe and Twain to see how these literary works reflect and shape the cultural conversations surrounding the issues. In addition to the required reading, students will be required to produce two short papers of literary analysis, and a longer paper of literary/cultural analysis of a particular issue. Students will also be asked to make use of various scholarly websites in order to access newspaper and periodical articles, illustrations, and other materials relating to the conversations about various cultural issues.
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