REVISED on OCT 13
English 211 Fall 2011
Professor Karen Sánchez-Eppler
Morgan Hall 101; phone 2186
Office hours: Wednesdays 9-12
Class: Converse 209; Tues. & Thurs. 10:00-11:20
This course explores the relation between literature and history. How does fiction work to interpret and understand the past? Can literary texts serve as historical evidence, providing information about social conditions and beliefs in a particular place and time? In what ways might other sorts of historical documentation affect or amplify the reading of literature? We will address these questions through specific examples and through theoretical readings that address issues of narration, memory, and the continuance of the past. The theme varies from year to year: in 2011 we will focus on American Literature and in particular on writing that confronts the social “problem” of the unmarried woman.
Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple, (Oxford UP, 1987) ISBN 0195042387
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, (Penguin, 2002) ISBN 0142437263
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, (Harvard UP, 2000) 0674002717
Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, (Penguin, 2000) ISBN 0140437975
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, (Signet Classics, 2000) ISBN 0451527569
Toni Morrison, Sula, (Vintage Books, 2004) ISBN 1400033438
Susan Choi, American Woman (Harper Collins, 2003) ISBN 0060542217
The books required for this course are available at Amherst Books. Because we will be working so closely with the primary texts it is important that each student has his or her own copy. If we all use the same edition it makes it much easier to find passages, and a few of these books include useful supplemental materials so please use these editions. I have asked Amherst Books to purchase used copies wherever possible. If you find it easier to work with e-books, that is fine. I would prefer however not to have laptops in class since they are inevitably more distracting, and tend to create a barrier that impedes discussion. Most additional materials will be available through electronic reserve but there will also be a few additional handouts.
Coursework papers and presentations:
Footsteps project: assignment 1, in class presentation, and paper.
Three essays on course readings due October 7, November 1, and December 19.
Three Research Assignments presented in class: everyone will do assignments 2 and 3 with a partner. You can choose between doing either assignment 4 or assignment 5.
Tuesday, September 6
Introduction to the course
The Novel as an Historical Object
Thursday, September 8
Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple (1791, American edition 1794) Volume 1
Tuesday, September 13
Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, Volume 2
Cathy Davidson, “The Life and Times of Charlotte Temple: The Biography of a Book” in Reading in America: Literature and Social History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989), 157‑79.
Thursday, September 15
Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple
Assignment 1: Pick the article you will use for your Footsteps Project, and write a paragraph that explains what attracts you to this piece and how or why it interests you. I will ask for brief presentations on Footsteps Projects on the last class that deals with that novel. Your Footsteps Project papers are due by the end of the next day. (Charlotte Temple folks will go September 22nd and will get an extra week for footstep papers)
Tuesday, September 20
Meet in Webster 102
Internet Data Bases workshop
Assignment 2: Working with a partner use one of the historical databases to find something that sheds light on a particular scene, character, passage, or image in The Scarlet Letter and bring it to class. A group of pairs will be responsible for finding materials to accompany each day’s readings. Please post the links to your findings on our course webpage.
The Historical Novel
Thursday, September 22
Charlotte Temple Footsteps Presentations, paper due Thursday Sept. 29
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), Custom House Introductory
Tuesday, September 27
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Chapters 1-8
Thursday, September 29
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Chapters 9-17
Tuesday, October 4
Scarlet Letter Footsteps Presentations, papers due Wednesday
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Chapters 18-24
History and Genre
Thursday, October 6
Meet at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Slavery and the literary marketplace: a presentation of 19th century editions across a wide range of narrative genres, focusing on abolitionist and pro-slavery materials.
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Preface-Chapter 13
Paper 1: Write a paper that uses a text from a scholarly historical database to help you interpret a particular moment in Charlotte Temple or The Scarlet Letter (4 pages due Friday October 7).
Reading Historically Syllabus Realignment
Thursday, October 13
Start Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,
Tuesday, October 18
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, through Chapter 29
Thursday, October 20
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, through Chapter 41
Incidents Footsteps Presentations, papers due Friday
Fiction and Social Critique
Tuesday, October 25
Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Chapters 1-9
Thursday, October 27
Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Chapters 10-19
Paper 2: Both Jacobs and Crane are writing in response to social and political dilemmas, and both make unusual decisions of style or genre in their efforts to address these issues. Write a paper that looks at a particular aspect of literary style in one of these books, and speculates on how it relates to the author’s social concerns (4 pages due Tuesday November 1st).
Realism and Material Culture
Tuesday, November 1
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905), Book 1, 1-8
Assignment 3: Working with a partner pick an object described in The House of Mirth and bring to class a period image of or advertisement for a similar object. Learn as much as you can about the production and distribution of your object. Please post links on our course webpage.
Thursday, November 3
Meet at the Mead Art Museum
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905), Book 1, 9-15
Tuesday, November 8
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, Book 2, Chapters 1-7
Thursday, November 10
House of Mirth Footsteps Presentations, papers due Friday
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, Book 2, Chapters 8-14
Narration and Memory
Tuesday, November 15
Toni Morrison, Sula, Part I, Prologue - 1921
Assignment 4: Morrison titles the chapters of Sula with dates. Teams of you will be responsible for each of these chapter dates, you will need to discover some of the salient events of that year and be prepared to talk about how/why they might matter for this chapter.
Thursday, November 17
Toni Morrison, Sula, Part I, 1922-1927
Tuesday, November 29
Sula Footsteps Presentations, papers due Wednesday
Toni Morrison, Sula, Part II
News is Novel
Thursday, December 1
Susan Choi, American Woman, Part 1
Assignment 5: American Woman is closely based on the Patty Hearst kidnapping. For each class a group of you will be responsible for bringing us articles from the mainstream and alternative press that refer to events depicted or discussed in this day’s readings.
Tuesday, December 6
Susan Choi, American Woman, Part 2
Thursday, December 8
Meet at Archive and Special Collections to view the Bloom Alternative Press Archives
Susan Choi, American Woman, Part 3
Tuesday, December 13-- Endings
Susan Choi, American Woman, Part 4
Paper 3: Write a paper on a topic of your choice about The House of Mirth, Sula, or American Woman. In your work you need to draw on at least one of the historical tools we have worked with this semester. You are welcome to write a paper based on your material culture, year, or Patty Hearst assignments, or to do something new. Due Monday December 19 (5 pages).