A Cultural History of American Literature III

Romanticism and Reform:
U.S. Literature from the Jacksonian Era to the Civil War

(Prof. Dr. F. Kelleter)

Please note that this is only the default version of the syllabus. During Prof. Kelleter's sabbatical in the winter term 2011/12, this lecture is taught by PD Dr. Margit Peterfy. To download the actual syllabus for the winter term 2011/12, including dates and modified reading assignments, click here.
Please bring this syllabus to the first session!

You may also download a set of study questions (PDF file) for this lecture course.

for HANDOUTS click on the individual sessions

Session 1

American Romanticism in the Antebellum Era

Reading: Hubert Zapf, "Romantik und American Renaissance, Amerikanische Literaturgeschichte, ed. Hubert Zapf (2nd ed., Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004), 85-153.
Suggested: Malcolm Bradbury, Richard Ruland, ed., From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), 104-178 (chapters "American Naissance", "Yea-Saying and Nay-Saying").

Session 2

The Subject, the Object, and the American Sublime: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Transcendentalism

Reading: "The American Scholar", from Nature: "Introduction," chapters 1, 4, 6.
Suggested:"Divinity School Address," "Self-Reliance."

Session 3

Constructions of Selfhood in Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854)

Reading: Walden, or Life in the Woods: chapters 1, 2, 18.
Suggested: Walden, or Life in the Woods in its entirety.

Session 4

From Irony to Perversity: Thoreau's Walden (continued) and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Sphinx" (1846)

Reading: see previous session; plus Poe, "The Sphinx".
Suggested: Thoreau, "Slavery in Massachusetts," "A Plea for Captain John Brown".

Session 5

The Simulated Landscapes of America: Edgar Allan Poe's "Morning on the Wissahiccon" (1843), "The Domain of Arnheim" (1846), "The Mask of the Red Death" (1842), and "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843)

Reading:"Morning on the Wissahiccon", "The Domain of Arnheim", "The Mask of the Red Death," "The Tell-Tale Heart."
Suggested:"Ligeia," "The Purloined Letter," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Imp of the Perverse"

Session 6

The Past, the Present, and Romance-Writing: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Reading:from The Scarlet Letter: "The Custom House."
Suggested: Hawthorne, preface to The House of the Seven Gables.

Session 7

From Allegory to Symbol: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (continued) and "Young Goodman Brown" (1835)

Reading: The Scarlet Letter in its entirety.
Suggested: "Young Goodman Brown."

Session 8

A Whale of a Book: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851)

Reading: Moby-Dick or, The Whale: chapters "Etymology," "Extracts," 1, 3, 4, 10, 16, 26-28.
Suggested: Moby-Dick in its entirety.

Session 9

How Do We Know? Herman Melville's Moby Dick (continued)

Reading: Moby-Dick or, The Whale: chapters chapters 32, 35-36, 41-42, 46, 89, 93-94, 96, 99, 106, 110, 124, 127, 132-35, "Epilogue."
Suggested: Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener."

Session 10

All Words Are Created Equal: Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855/92)

Reading: "Preface to Leaves of Grass" (1855), "Song of Myself" (version of 1881).
Suggested: "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking."

Session 11

Expansion vs. Concentration: Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" (1881) and the Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Reading: see previous session, plus Emily Dickinson, poems no. 122 [130] ("These are the days"), 124 [216]
("Safe in their Alabaster Chambers"), 340 [280] ("I felt a Funeral"), 372 [341] ("After great pain"), 409 [303] ("The Soul Selects Her Own Society"), 479 [712] ("Because I could not stop for Death"), 591 [465] ("I heard a Fly buzz"), 1263 [1129] ("Tell all the Truth").
Note: The numbers in square brackets refer to the Johnson edition and to Norton (6th ed.).

Session 12

Sentimentalism and Reform: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851/2)

Reading: from Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly: "Preface," chapters 1, 3, 7, 9, 14, 20, 26, 30, 31, 34, 40, 45.
Suggested: Edward Pollard, from Black Diamonds (in the reader "Introduction to American Cultural History"), George Fitzhugh, from Cannibals All! (in the reader "Introduction to American Cultural History").

Session 13

American Drama in an Age of Reform: John Augustus Stone's Metamora, or The Last of the Wampanoags (1829)

Reading: Metamora, or The Last of the Wampanoags.
Suggested: Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia: Query 6 (excerpts).

Session 14

The Slave Narrative: Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845) and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Reading: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass ("Preface," chapters 1, 2, 7, 10-11, "Appendix") and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (selections in Norton Anthology).
Suggested Further Reading: Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

Almost all primary texts on the syllabus are included as full texts in the Norton Anthology of American Literature (Seventh Edition, Volume B). Texts not included in Norton are provided in the course reader, which can be bought at the copy-store "Klartext."
However, there are no excerpts of Moby-Dick in the coursepack (while Norton only includes a few chapters)! Therefore, students should buy Moby-Dick as a full text in an authoritative edition (such as Norton Critical Edition) or copy these chapters from an authoritative edition. No edition of Moby-Dick is complete without the peritexts "Etymology" and "Extracts." In other words: Students need the course reader, the Norton Anthology (Sixth or Seventh Edition), and an edition of Moby-Dick. It makes little sense to attend the lecture course without reading the assigned texts.
If you cannot attend this lecture course because of a scheduling conflict with other mandatory courses, please see us in advance and we will schedule a repeated screening of the lecture course for you, and provide you with material for independent study. Please understand that we can provide this service only if you contact us before the first week of classes!
For all organizational matters, please contact Birte Otten.