English 144 - Fall, 2015

Post-Civil War American Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Vernon, Matthew
CRN: 73361
Time: MWF 9:00-9:50
Location: 27 Wellman


    Ghosts, detectives, pirates, science fiction, celebrity sex scandals, and Ben Franklin! We are going to look at a curious section of American literature, wherein many of the genres of literature we now find familiar were being formulated and the idea of what the nation represented was being radically changed in ways that still haunt our national psyche.

    We will undertake a broad survey of the literature antecedent and subsequent to the Civil War. We will begin with the parallel writings of Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville about the nation on the verge of war, continue through Edith Wharton’s nostalgic reconstruction of the nineteenth-century, and end with Toni Morrison’s meditation on the continued hold the Civil War continues to have on the American mind. This class will also be an exploration of the material culture of the nineteenth-century, particularly the explosion of military technology, of photography, and of print culture, will be a vital part of this course’s work.


    Beloved, Toni Morrison
    The America Play, Suzan Lori-Parks
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
    The Awakening, Kate Chopin
    Israel Potter, Herman Melville
    The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
    My Bondage, My Freedom, Frederick Douglass
    Old New York, Edith Wharton
    Detective Stories, Edgar Allen Poe
    The House Behind the Cedars, Charles Chesnutt