American Romanticism in European Perspective (w/C. Lit 548)
American Romance and European Realism. In "The Custom House" Nathaniel Hawthorne writes, "If a man, sitting all alone, cannot dream strange things, and make them look like truth, he need never try to write romances." Such statements begat a critical tradition arguing that American romance was an altogether different genre from the novel. Yet throughout the nineteenth century, prose writers in the tradition of realism aimed to strike a balance between the truth of reality and the interest of romance. Indeed, Hawthorne was a great fan of Nathaniel Trollope--the dreamiest romance writer embracing the plainest realist. In this seminar, expanding beyond the course title, I want to explore American and European writers from throughout the century, mostly in pairs, to examine affinities and distinctions belonging to the normal variations within the realist mode. We'll be reading a lot, fast, so be prepared. It would be best to read Trollope and Zola over the break.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "History"
Washington Irving, "Rip van Winkle," and Gottfried Keller, "Pankraz the Grumbler"
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, and Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right
Herman Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener," and Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat"
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, and Emile Zola, The Debacle
Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio, and James Joyce, Dubliners