English 203

Graduate Readings: The Writings of Henry Adams and William James

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2009 Breitwieser, Mitchell
Breitwieser, Mitchell
TTh 2-3:30 221 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays; Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams; Henry Adams, Mont St. Michel and Chartres; Henry Adams, Democracy: An American Novel; William James, The Writings of William James; William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience.


These two American friends stand at the beginning of the twentieth century reprising the melancholy and experimental strains of New England culture, and anticipating modernism:  T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, W.E.B. DuBois, Wallace Stevens and Thomas   Pynchon would cite them as focalizing influences.  I hope that our discussions will be based on close reading and adventurous speculation, and that we will achieve at least a preliminary understanding of Adams’s and James’s countervailing views concerning American possibility.  In addition to regular attendance and participation in discussion, a total of twenty five pages of writing will be required, whether in the form of a single essay or divided into several pieces of various lengths.  Essays relating Adams and/or James to other American writers will be welcome.

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