Development of the American novel from its beginnings to 1900.
This course examines the 19th-century American novel through two of its strangest and most intricate epics: Martin Delany’s Blake, or the Huts of America and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. By focusing on these two novels, we will pay particular attention to how 19th-century novelists grappled with slavery, ways of life that felt increasingly “global,” and what it meant to “belong” – to a community, to a crew, to a racial identity, to a nation. In addition to practicing close reading and literary analytical skills, students will take turns leading class discussion, and we will also devote time each week to examining critical and contextual readings, as well as identifying afterlives of these novels in contemporary culture.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.