English 130B

American Literature: 1800-1865

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Breitwieser, Mitchell
Breitwieser, Mitchell
TTh 12:30-2 242 Hearst Gym

Other Readings and Media

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition


In the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S., a nation that had barely come together, was splitting apart. The fission helped to produce the remarkably energetic works we will be studying over the course of the semester. I will focus primarily on questions of freedom, cruelty, desire, and loss in my lectures, attempting to understand the relation between these abstract human experiences and the particular historical situation framing them. I will also emphasize the striking, baroque, often bizarre formal innovations attempted in these works.

Two ten-page essays and a final exam will be required, along with regular attendance.

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