English 158A - Fall, 2018

The American Novel to 1900

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
CRN: 21907
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 146 Olson


    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.

    Participation 16%
    Paper 1 (4-5 pp) 18%
    Paper 2 (7-8 pp) 30%
    Short Assignments 15%
    Midterm 10%
    Final Exam 10%


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