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ENGL 450
Melville, Mark Twain, & Ellison Fall 2020
Division I

Class Details

As an epigraph to his novel, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison selects a quotation from Herman Melville’s story, “Benito Cereno.” In the prologue to Invisible Man, Ellison invokes a sermon that appears briefly in the opening chapter of Moby-Dick. In his essays on comedy and American culture, Ellison comments trenchantly on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Melville and Mark Twain were, in many obvious ways, as different as two writers can be. Nonetheless, they also have many surprising similarities, and it is not difficult to understand why both are so important to Ellison. This course will examine the novels, stories, and essays of these three writers, with particular attention to the themes that they have in common and to the traits that make each of them distinctive. Race, slavery, epistemology, and the nature of American democracy are among those themes.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 2361
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: journal, a final 15-page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives

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