ENGL 338 Fall 2012 The American Renaissance

Cross Listed as AMST338
The 1840s and 50s are known as "the American Renaissance," a watershed in American literary history which includes Thoreau's Walden and Melville's Moby-Dick, Emerson's essays and Hawthorne's fiction. It also includes major abolitionist writings by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe and the groundbreaking poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. We will read through this essential period of American literature by asking how key authors figure intimacy, emotion, and experience. That inquiry, in turn, will help us explore the formations of literary work and its interventions into the culture of a nation heading toward Civil War and conscious of its fractures. How did these authors imagine the gulf between self and not-self, and the potential to bridge that gulf? Did the written word have the power to make readers "feel right," as Stowe hoped, or to correct them when they felt wrong, as Douglass attempts to do when he tells his audience that slave songs express sorrow, not joy? As we move through a rich variety of texts, we will explore how authors try to move their readers, and how they conceive of emotion's relationship to the individual person and to the culture at large.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: students will write regular informal response papers/presentations, plus two longer essays of about 6-7 and 9-10 pages
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Prerequisites: a 100-level English course, or a score of 5 on the AP Exam in English Literature or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate
Enrollment Preference: English majors
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Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AMST
Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives, ENGL Literary Histories B
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 25
Class Number: 1612
ENGL338-01(F) SEM The American Renaissance Division 1: Languages and the Arts Ashley C. Barnes
TR 11:20 AM-12:35 PM Schapiro Hall 137 1612
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