Spring 2018

Unraveling Nationalism in American Literature

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-353  |  English, as ENGL-353


Lisa Brooks (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 353 and AMST 353.)  This course begins with the premise that if we are to understand the rise of nationalism in our time, it is worthwhile to grapple with its roots.  Although these roots reach back long before the beginning of the United States, we will focus on nationalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as it was linked to debates about race, social Darwinism, colonialism and immigration.  Some of the guiding questions will include:  How was nationalism entangled with Anglo-American claims to “native” American identity?  What was the relationship of nationalism to colonialism, including military actions and legal acts that contained and dismembered Native American nations?  How can we understand these ideologies and policies in relation to U.S. territorial expansion, and in relation to laws and policies that sought to contain the borders and keep some immigrants out of the national body?  How did Jim Crow laws deny African-Americans access to an American national identity?  How can citizenship be understood in relation to both Jim Crow and immigration laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act?  How did authors of color assert self-determination in their work, to intervene through creative expression and representation?  Most important, how might literature (and literary analysis) create a vital space for grappling with this complex terrain?  To wrestle with these questions, we will read closely literary texts written during the period between 1880-1930 in conversation with recent critical scholarship, as well as fiction and creative non-fiction set in this tumultuous time.

Limited to 40 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Brooks.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to English and American Studies majors.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018