Mark R Patterson
Literary responses to an America propelled forward by accelerating and complex forces. Works by Twain, James, and such other writers as Whitman, Dickinson, Adams, Wharton, Howells, Crane, Dreiser, DuBois, and Chopin.
For SUMMER 2007: Uncanny America. In America, the late 19th century saw the emergence of the nation as an economic and cultural power. As Americans looked to a promising future, the city as we know it came into being, the intellectual life was vibrant, and hope for individual accomplishment was bright. And yet the America was haunted. This is a course about the haunting of America, or rather, about the ways in which American literature between 1865 and 1910 held the mirror up to society to reveal its darker realities. Economic optimism was countered by works about poverty, the bright future was haunted by the legacies of the Civil War, and praise for equality was tempered by the writers’ obsession with the ways in which minorities and women were constrained by the very forces that offered such promise. We will use Freud’s famous essay on the uncanny to discuss the various forms of haunting in the period. Included will be real ghost stories by Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Ambrose Bierce, but we will also consider other forms of the uncanny, like the doubling of racial passing in Charles Chesnutt and Mark Twain, and the alienation in city life in Horatio Alger and Stephen Crane. Assignments will include in-class writing assignments and short essays.
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