Course Instructor Days Times Room


As a partial antidote to the imperial undertones in the catalogue title for this class, our syllabus will focus on a core of unexpected titles from the usual artistic suspects who make up "The American Novel to 1900."  Not Moby-Dick but The Confidence-Man instead, a surreal trip on a riverboat rather than a blood-soaked whaling voyage. Not The Scarlet Letter but The Blithedale Romance, set in a spooky nineteenth-century commune rather than the witchy worlds of Boston or Salem. Not Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, in which the main character actually goes to hell rather than merely planning on doing so. Not The Portrait of a Lady but Washington Square, a book that its author tried to expunge from his legacy. Not Uncle Tom's Cabin but The Minister's Wooing, a remarkable journey back in time published on the threshold of the Civil War. Novels by Charles Brockden Brown and James Fenimore Cooper will precede these books on the calendar. If we have time, we will end the term with Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. Students will write four, brief papers, over the course the term, exploring the intricate rewards of their reading experience.


I have ordered the following books for the class. If you order on-line, please use these ISBNs:

Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly (9780140390629)

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (9780199538195)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance (9780192836977)

Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man (9780192818249)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Minister's Wooing (9780140437027)

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (9780520235755)

Henry James, Washington Square (9780375761225)

Rather than overload the calendar, I have decided to drop The Red Badge of Courage from the list. If a novel is worth reading at all, it is worth reading slowly and re-reading, if possible, in order to steep ourselves in its unique, verbal world. To that end, I have asked the bookstore to order all new copies, no used ones, so that these titles can make a fresh start in your personal libraries.