ENG660 201801 Graduate

Fall 2018
ENG 660
Applies To: 
American Literature: Cultures of Leisure: America, 1865-1914

Henry Wonham

Henry Wonham profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Additional Title:
  • Phone: 541-346-3266
  • Office: 436 Tykeson Hall
  • Office Hours: No office hours; available by email
Department Section Description: 

This seminar will explore the astounding emergence and institutionalization of “leisure” as a cultural phenomenon in post-Civil War America. Most, if not all, of the defining leisure activities and organizations of our own era—amateur sports and fitness associations, professional spectator sports, national parks, amusement parks, international tourism, urban playgrounds and pleasure parks, art museums, vacation resorts, health spas, etc.—developed during the years between the Civil War and World War I. With Thorstein Veblen (The Theory of the Leisure Class), William Gleason (The Leisure Ethic: Work and Play in American Literature), Bill Brown (The Material Unconscious: American Amusements, Stephen Crane, and the Economies of Play), and other critics and theorists as our guides, we will examine major fiction of the period to explain how writers understood, engaged with, and perhaps participated in the phenomenon of American leisure. Primary readings may include works by Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, James Weldon Johnson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.