Fall 2011

American Literature in the Making: Nineteenth Century to the Civil War

Listed in: English, as ENGL-213

Formerly listed as: ENGL-08  |  ENGL-10


Barry O'Connell (Section 01)


Over the last twenty-five years literary historians and critics have completely remade the field of American literature.  The important artistic contributions of women, of African Americans, of Latinos, of Asian Americans, and of Native Americans have received attention and appreciation.  In many instances long-forgotten texts have been uncovered and appreciated as first-rate works of art.  Neglected artists like Willa Cather and James Weldon Johnson have been reread, re-seen.  The goal of this four-semester sequence is to survey American literature from its beginnings to the present in a history that attempts to bring together what were once considered the classics with the most important of the newer additions to the body of American literature.  In doing so our primary attention will be on texts of exceptional literary merit.

The course will cover the years from 1820 to 1920. These are the years when Anglo-American literature achieved an international reputation. They are also the years of African Americans’ first intense and bitter struggle for liberation, and the years when the Euro-American conquest of the Indians was completed. The second half of the century also experienced the largest immigration in the history of the country until the post-1965 period, which enabled the United States to become the greatest industrial power in the world. The literature we will read is enmeshed in all these complex events: Cooper, Sedgwick, Emerson, Thoreau, Fanny Fern, Hawthorne, Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass.

Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor O'Connell.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2016