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Syllabus 2008-2009

EN 213 US Writing and Culture


Advance Preparation:  Please read all the sections from Inventing America dealing with the late 18th century and the 19th century prior to the start of term.

Term 1

Week 1:  Introduction

Unit 1:  Patriarchy, Gender, and the Family (weeks 2-5)

Week 2:  Reading Pack:  Gender, Domesticity, and Ideologies of Private Life [handout]

Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860”
Alexis de Tocqueville, “Education of Girls in the United States”
Nancy F. Cott, “On ‘Woman’s Sphere’ and Feminism”
Raymond Williams, from “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory”
Judith Butler, from Gender Trouble

Week 3:  Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Penguin Classics)
Week 4:  Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson (selections to be announced; Harvard UP, reading edition)
Week 5:  Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (Penguin Popular Classics) 

Unit 2:  Slavery, Abolition, Reconstruction (weeks 7-10)

Week 7:  Reading Pack:  Slavery, Abolition, Reconstruction [handout]:

H.D. Thoreau,  "Resistance to Civil Government" ("Civil Disobedience")
W. E. B. DuBois, from The Souls of Black Folk
Hazel Carby, from Reconstructing Womanhood (to be read in conjunction with Jacobs text)
David Brion Davis, from Inhuman Bondage:  The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World
Illustrations of slaveship cargo holds
Noel Ignatiev, “Immigrants and Whites” from Race Traitor
“Abolish the White Race–By Any Means Necessary” from Race Traitor
“When Does the Unreasonable Act Make Sense?” from Race Traitor

Week 8: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave-Girl (Dover)
Week 9:  Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson (Oxford World’s Classics)
Week 10: Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition (Dover)

Term 2

Unit 3:  Social Hieroglyphics (weeks 1-5)

Week 1:  Reading Pack:  Commodities, Labour, Consumption [handout]

Karl Marx, “The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret”
Howard Zinn, “Robber Barons and Rebels”
Alan Trachtenberg, “Mysteries of the Great City”
Thorstein Veblen, “Conspicuous Consumption,” from The Theory of the Leisure Class

Week 2: William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes (Penguin Classics or Random House, depending on availability)
Week 3: Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton (Oxford World’s Classics)
Week 4:  Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener; “The Paradise of Bachelors”/”The Tartarus of Maids” (Wordsworth Classics)
Week 5: Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition (Penguin Classics), and additional poems [handout]

Unit 4:  Immigration, Borders, Frontiers (weeks 7-10)

Week 7: Reading Pack:  Border, Nation, and Frontier [handout]

F. J. Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”
Richard Slotkin, “Buffalo Bill’s ‘Wild West’ and the Mythologization of the American Empire”
Marx and Aveling, “The Cowboys”
R. W. Emerson, “Self-Reliance”
from Dinnerstein, Nichols, and Reimers, Natives and Strangers:  Blacks, Indians, and Immigrants in America

Week 8: Stephen Crane, “The Blue Hotel” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" (electronic texts; clicking on links will download .pdf files)
Week 9 : Owen Wister, The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains (Oxford World’s Classics)
Week 10: Gertrude Stein, Three Lives (Penguin 20th Century Classics)

Other Required Texts:

Maier, Pauline, et al. Inventing America: A History of the United States (Volume 1). W.W. Norton.  Note: Get only volume 1, not the complete hardback.