Syllabus

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

"When a writer calls his works a Romance it needs hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume, had he professed himself to be writing a Novel. The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but the probable and ordinary course of man's experience. The former - while, as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably, so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart - has fairly a right to represent that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation. If he think it fit, also, he may so manage his atmospherical medium as to bring out or mellow the lights and deepen and enrich the shadows of the picture." Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables, 1851

Aug 27 Intro: Reading: "Psycho-narration" from Dorit Cohn's Transparent Minds (pdf)
Sept 3 Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850 pp 75-174
Paul Eakin "Hawthorne’s Imagination and the Structure of the Custom House" American Literature 43, 1971 (pdf)
Tony Tanner, Adultery in the Novel pp. 3-17 (pdf)
Sept 10 Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, pp 174-293
Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, chapters 2 & 5 (pdf)
Appendixes E, F, A and B of the Broadview editions (Hawthorne’s Puritan and Transcendentalist sources)

Herman Melville, Billy Budd and Benito Cereno

"In the first half of the nineteenth century more Africans that Europeans arrived in the Americas. William Bird wrote to Lord Eymons as early as 1732: ‘They import so many Negros hither, that I fear this Colony will some time or other be confirmed by the Name of New Guinea.’ It is therefore not surprising when reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Custom-House’ (the preface to The Scarlet Letter) to note that he describes the street running through the old town of Salem as having ‘Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one end, and a view of the almshouse at the other.’ In "Free and Coerced Transatlantic Migration: Some Comparisons," The American Historical Review (April 1983), David Eltis writes: ‘In every year from about the mid-sixteenth century to 1831, more Africans than Europeans likely came to the Americas, and not until the second wave of mass migration in the 1880s did the sum of that European immigration start to match and then exceed the cumulative influx from Africa… The revolution in Saint-Domingue, Haiti (1791-1804) was the only successful slave revolt in the New World…" Joan Dayan, "Romance and Race" in The Columbia History of the American Novel


Sept 17 Melville, Billy Budd
Wai-Chee Dimock, Empire for Liberty (pdf), pp. 7-20
Kenneth Ledbetter, "The Ambiguity of Billy Budd" Texas Studies in Literature, 1962 (pdf)
Sept 24 Melville, Benito Cereno
Orlando Patterson, Freedom (pdf)
Matthew Rebhorn, "Minding the Body: Benito Cereno and Melville’s Embodied Reading Practice" Studies in the Novel, 2009 (pdf)

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

“The Concord (MA) Public Library committee has decided to exclude Mark Twain’s latest book from the library.  One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type.  He regards it as the veriest trash.  The librarian and other members of the committee entertain similar views, characterizing it as rough, coarse and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.”  The Boston Transcript, March 17, 1885

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.  If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys.  That is the real end.  The rest is just cheating.  But it’s the best book we’ve had.
All American writing comes from that.  There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” Ernest Hemingway

Oct 1 Twain, Huckleberry Finn, chapters 1-22
Shelley Fishkin, Was Huck Black?, chapters 5 and 6 (pdf)
Paul Taylor, "Huckleberry Finn: The Education of a Young Capitalist" One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn (pdf)
Robert Schulman, "Fathers, Brothers, and "the Diseased": The Family, Individualism, and American Society in Huck Finn" One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn (pdf)
Oct 8 Huckleberry Finn (23-end)
Millicent Bell, "Huckleberry Finn and the Sleights of the Imagination" One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn (pdf)
Robert Sattelmeyer, "Interesting but Tough": Huckleberry Finn and the Problem of Tradition" One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn (pdf)

Willa Cather, My Ántonia

“The largest government subsidies in American history financed [the] railroad boom.  Government support for internal improvement was not in itself new.  Canals and turnpikes had been heavily subsidized by state and local governments in the antebellum period, and in the 1850s Congress realized that a transcontinental line would require major assistance.  The sheer scale of government aid after the Civil War far surpassed anything earlier: between 1862 and 1872, Congress gave away more than 10 million acres of land to railroad companies and provided them with over $64 million in loans and tax breaks.
The Republican congressmen who voted for these huge grants… argued that the railroads were needed to open up the western lands to independent farmers. They linked their assistance to the railroads with what appeared to be a pathbreaking land bill, the Homestead Act of 1862.  The act allowed any adult citizen or permanent immigrant to claim 160 acres of public land for a $10 fee; final title to the land would be granted after five years of residence.  Such a law had long been a demand of the urban labor movement, and its supporters heralded it as the salvation of the laboring man. ‘Should it become law,” wrote the Radical Republican George Julian before it was passed, “the poor white laborers… would flock to the territories, where labor would be respectable, [and] our democratic theory of equality would be put in practice.’”  Who Built America?

Oct 22 My Ántonia pp. 3-135
Raymond Williams, The Country and the City, chapters 1, 2, and 25 (pdf)
Field trip to Oregon School of Arts and Crafts for Barabara Tetebaum exhibit and lecture.
Oct 29 My Ántonia pp. 136-273
Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter, chapter 5 (pdf)

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

"’The case of the governess is so much harder than that of any other class…a being our
equal in birth, manners and education but our inferior in worldly wealth…. There is no
other class which so cruelly requires its members to be in birth, mind, and manners,
above their station, in order to fit them for their station.’ [….] A governess suffered
acutely from what the modern sociologist calls ‘status incongruity’." "Class, Sex, and the
Victorian Governess," Millicent Bell

Nov 5 Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
excerpts from Henry James at Home (pdf)
excerpts from Henry James, Letters (pdf)
Nov 12 Freud, "The Uncanny" (pdf)
McWhirter, "In the ‘Other House’ of Fiction: Writing, Authority, and Femininity in The Turn of the Screw," (pdf)

Gertrude Stein, Three Lives

"In a general’s work for a while ‘nothing happens together and then all of a sudden it all
happens together.’ For a general and for Henry James ‘everything that could happen or
not happen would have had a preparation.’" Four Generals in America, Gertrude Stein

Nov 19 Stein, The Good Anna
William James, "Habit," Chap 4, Principles of Psychology 1890 (pp. 104-127) (pdf)
Stein, The Gentle Lena
Stein, "Composition as Explanation" (pdf)
Nov 26 Stein, Melanctha
Laura Doyle, "The Flat, the round and Gertrude Stein" Modernism/Modernity 7:2, 2000 pp 249-71 section 4 (pdf)
Dec 3 Stein, Melanctha
John Carlos Rowe, "Naming What is Inside: Gertrude Stein’s Use of Names in "Three Lives" in Novel 36:2, 2003, p 219-243 http://www.jstor.org/stable/1346127