English 190

Research Seminar: Words and Images: The Intellectual Marketplace of Antebellum America


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2013 McQuade, Donald
TTh 12:30-2 206 Wheeler

Book List

Barnum, P.T.: The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself; Franklin, Benjamin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin with Related Documents

Description

This seminar will focus on the literature and visual culture of the early United States — roughly the 1790s through the 1840s, with more than a glance back to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards and forward to Walt Whitman and Herman Melville.  We will imagine the emergent phenomena of “immanence” (in brief: epistemological security, personal authenticity, and social continuity with historical origins) in conflict with the residual benefits and attachments of “representative” (epistemological uncertainty, the capitalist marketplace, mutability of identity, and a decisive rupture with traditions). We will also probe contending meanings of reading, writing, publication, and print with attention to the developing demands of republicanism, nationalism, and modernity — and the threatening challenge of commodification, the private sphere over public, and individualism.  We will draw on a wide range of visual culture (especially paintings and popular images) and literature — from the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Charles Brockden Brown, Ralph Waldo Emerson, P.T. Barnum, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne to the emergence of advertising from the evangelical rhetoric of the Second Great Awakening.

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