ENGL432 - American Literature: 1865 to 1914, Realism and Naturalism

The course will attempt to get far beyond a textbook definition of realism. For the most part, we will consider what is “left” for literature and even life once the heavens empty, the gods are dead, heroism shrivels, transcendental vibrations vanish, and, for the most part, the new world seems primed to settle into a hard rock of radical materialism. Some, like Walt Whitman, find an alternative in a semi-divine self, some, like Henry James, find a new infinity in the subtleties of the human mind. Our syllabus will include James, Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry Adams, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, W, E, B, Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Gertrude Stein Two papers, midterm, final. Students –and this is a serious recommendation—who do not plan to attend religiously should not take this course.


Two English courses in literature or permission of the department.