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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

ENGL 72.05 1850s America

What can the literature of a single decade tell us? From The Scarlet Letter (1850) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851-52) to Leaves of Grass (1855) and Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech of 1858, the literary output of America in the 1850s provides us with a snapshot of a turbulent culture amidst unprecedented growth and crisis. Slavery and xenophobia, minstrelsy and mass entertainments, crowds, consumerism, and cities, the “woman question,” labor rights, economic panics, and the secularization of Christian sentiment—these are just some of the issues that clamor in the literature of the decade. Our texts shall represent the gorgeous miscellany that is the 1850s, drawing from both high and low culture, canonical and forgotten authors, and from both established genres and media like novels and slave narratives to more ephemeral ones like newspapers, almanacs, caricatures, and inscribed material objects. Classes will meet in Rauner so that we may use these and other period rarities to spawn discussion and topics for original, independent research. In addition to the rich content of the texts themselves (their historical contexts and theoretical possibilities), another object of inquiry shall be the nature of literary history itself.

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.

Department-Specific Course Categories

Senior Seminar: Course Group II