||TTh 2-3:30||224 Wheeler||
This course considers major texts by Henry James and Edith Wharton in light of their shared fascination with marriage, manners, and extravagant wealth. Our readings will survey the shape of each author?s career, beginning with some of James?s earlier and more popular texts and moving on to later works that demonstrate his stylistic and thematic development. The second half of the course will focus on Wharton. We will read several of her best-known novels, as well as some lesser-known works and short fiction which explore dimensions of her career that complicate her image as the elite chronicler of ?Old New York.? We will be especially interested in the ways each author investigates the world of manners, courtship, and sophisticated sociability in order to understand better the violence, sexuality, and even brutality that this tries desperately to channel and contain. We will also discuss how James and Wharton can help us understand historical relations between literary realism and depictions of modernity, between gender, sexuality, and professional authorship, and between nationality and cosmopolitanism at the turn of the twentieth century.