Spring 2016

The Age of Emerson

Listed in: English, as ENGL-213

Formerly listed as: ENGL-08  |  ENGL-10


Barry O'Connell (Section 01)


In the years 1830 to 1860 Emerson dominates. He is known throughout the entire United States, widely read, yet more widely heard, an inspiration to many writers, a curse to a few. Melville and Thoreau are little known for the most part.  Until Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, none of the many women writers achieved comparable stature, though many were popular.

Political and social struggle marked these times: Indian Rights, abolitionism, women’s rights, utopian communities, the continuing efforts of black people to become free in the North as well as in the South, and the sectional antagonisms that led to the Civil War. These pervade every form of literature and support the emergence of Indian writers, a substantial number of black writers (most notably Frederick Douglass) and slave narratives, a whole new genre, and more writing by women. For the first time in American history something like the full range of voices in the society could be heard and read.

The readings in the course focus on Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Douglass, Apess, and Stowe.

Limited to 40 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Emeritus O’Connell.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to seniors and then juniors.


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2016