English 158A - Summer Sessions II, 2015

The American Novel to 1900

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
CRN: 71400
Time: MTW 10:00-11:40
Location: 113 Hoagland


    This course charts the development of the American novel from its Revolutionary-era inception to the end of the 19th century. We will read examples from some of the many generic traditions of early national, antebellum, and Reconstruction American fiction, including the seduction tale, the gothic thriller, the historical romance, wilderness adventure, naturalist novella, utopian science fiction, and regionalist satire. Lectures will focus on the aesthetic structures as well as the biographical and social contexts of the individual novels. Some attention will be paid to theoretical and historical arguments about the novel as a form. Primary reading will be relatively heavy, but there will be few assigned secondary texts.


    Attendance will be taken, and papers and exams will require substantial mastery of materials presented in lecture. Lecture notes will not be circulated or posted on the web.

    Quizzes/Attendance 20% (drop lowest 3; 12 x 1.75%)
    Paper 1 (4-5 pp) 25%
    Paper 2 (7-8 pp) 35%
    Final Exam 20%


    Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth, Susanna Rowson
    Wieland; or, The Transformation, Charles Brockden Brown
    Hope Leslie; or, Early Times in the Massachusetts, Catharine Maria Sedgwick
    Life in the Iron Mills, Rebecca Harding Davis
    The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, Mark Twain
    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Stephen Crane
    Looking Backward: 2000-1887, Edward Bellamy
    Billy Budd and Other Stories, Herman Melville