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Survey of American literary history following the Civil War
Sheila Boland Chira ()
Dates: May 18 - June 12, 2015
What makes literature "American"? Is it American because of where it was produced and by whom? Or, does American literature help us define and question American culture and values? Thinking like a literary historian means raising questions about how we tell the story of American literature and culture. Whose voices are heard? Which books matter and why? This survey of American literature starts with Mark Twain?s novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and surveys the lasting debates about its place in literary history considering how Twain?s choices influenced the next generation: Why does Ernest Hemingway claim that "all modern American literature" comes from Twain's novel? Reading short stories by Charles Chesnutt, Edith Wharton, Anzia Yezierska, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Zora Neale Hurston, we will consider how each expressed themes and debates that were central to the period of American modernism but also ask why they still matter today. We will end with American poets' attempts to follow Ezra Pound's command to "make it new" in the period between World War I and World War II.
In this 4-week online course, expect daily reading and writing assignments, weekly quizzes, and a final wiki-based presentation.
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