English C136

Topics in American Studies: Mark Twain and the Gilded Age

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2015 Hutson, Richard
TTh 11-12:30 30 Wheeler

Book List

Adams, Henry: Democracy; Alger, Horatio: Ragged Dick; Cashman, Sean: America in the Gilded Age; Chesnutt, Charles: The House Behind the Cedars; Howells, William Dean: The Rise of Silas Lapham; Riis, Jacob: How the Other Half Lives; Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Twain, Mark: The Gilded Age

Other Readings and Media

There will be a small class reader.


Mark Twain’s and Charles Dudley Warner’s collaborative novel of 1873, The Gilded Age, has given a name to the American historical period of the post-Civil War era (roughly 1865 to 1890).  It is a period of great changes in the country—the rise of monopolistic industrial capitalism in powerful corporations with consequent urbanization and the rise of cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, etc., and the struggle of a rural America against these new powers.  It is a period of great economic unrest, with regular depressions (known as “panics”) and labor strikes.  With Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1865), we glimpse the failed Reconstruction of the freed men and women from slavery as various forms of oppression are invented in the nation to re-subjugate African Americans.  And, this is a period of a certain intellectual turmoil as writers try to understand what is going on in the country.

There will be two midterm exams and a final exam.

This course is cross-listed with American Studies C111E.

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