English 158A - Summer Sessions II, 2019

The American Novel to 1900

Class Information

Instructor: Williams, Nathaniel
CRN: 71526
Time: TWR 12:10-1:50
Location: 1130 Bainer


Given course parameters (before 1900, only "American" authors), the list of possible novels for this class is immense. Some works or authors have sustained readers' interest since their origin. Other novels, such as Moby-Dick, weren't deemed as great literature until decades after their release. And there are hundreds of novels that were beloved in their time that are nearly forgotten now.

Following the pedagogy of Paul Lauter and others, I will be soliciting student input for some of the reading in this class. I have selected three short, chronologically early novels and one by a late 1800s canonical author (Twain's Tom Sawyer). Students will help select 2 to 3 additional texts after a pre-class online poll and discussion on the first day. As we do this, we will think critically about canonicity, inclusiveness, aesthetics, market forces, and the other factors that go into artistic production and course creation.

So, contemplate the familiar authors you'd expect in a course like this or, better yet, authors, books, or genres you've heard about, have never read, but want to. What gets read? What gets left out? What do we collectively think needs to be covered?


Quizzes/Short In-Class Essays-05%
Warm-Up, Short Essay (2-3 pages)-15%
Long-Term Research Paper (6-8 pages)-30%
Group Short Annotated Bibliography-10%
Final Exam (15% multiple choice, 85% essays)-20%
Class Participation/Discussion-20%


The Female American, Winkfield
The Coquette, Foster
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Poe
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain
2-3 additional novels chosen on first day