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FALL SEMESTER, 2010–2011
COURSE CODE: BTAN3001MA
Course Designation:
SELECTED TOPICS IN AMERICAN LITERARY AND
CULTURAL HISTORY
Title:
PORTRAITS AND LANDMARKS IN 19TH– AND
EARLY 20TH–CENTURY U.S. LITERATURE, I–II:
(A DOUBLE LECTURE COURSE)
TIME & PLACE:
INSTRUCTORS:
[1] 12:00–13:40 p.m., Monday;
Studio (#111); &
[2] 10:00–11:40 a.m., Wednesday;
Országh seminar room (#119);
(both in the Main Building, U of D)
[1] Gabriella Varró, Associate Professor;
Office: Room #116/1, Main Bldg, U of D
Phone: (52) 489–100/ 512–900 (ext. 22152)
Office hours: 13.00–14.00, Tu; 14.00–15.00, Wed
E-mail: gabriella.varro@gmail.com
[2] Zsolt Virágos, Professor
Office: Room #118, Main Bldg, U of D
Phone: (52) 489–100/512–900 (ext.: 22069)
Office hours:10.00–11.00,Mon;12.00–13.00, Wed
E-mail: zk72viragos@yahoo.com
DESCRIPTION, COURSE GOALS
This retrospective course of study has been designed to offer students of American Studies in
the Master’s Program an extension of previously acquired knowledge pertaining to the literary
culture of the United States from 1800 to World War Two. Thus the principal objectives of
this double lecture course are both the consolidation of earlier exposure to a new
cultural/literary awareness and the broadening of horizons. The thematic range of the lectures
has been designed to foreground selected literary and cultural historical processes, peaks of
development, theoretical issues, authorial achievements, as well as major shifts and turningpoints for a period of a century and a half in the literary culture of 19th- and 20th-century
America. Representative examples of selected themes will include varieties of American
thought in classic (i.e., 19th century-) U.S. literature and American expressiveness in the early
20th century, paradigm shifts in American culture, the special problematic and contradictory
impulses within American naturalism (as opposed to European naturalisms), peaks of literary
maturity (for instance, the 1850s and the 1930s), the Muckraking Movement, Muckraking
fiction and nonfiction, the Roaring Twenties, the Lost Generation, the Depression Era, 20thcentury “American Renaissances,” the Revolt from the Village, the New Poetry, Imagism, the
Modernist movement in Europe and America, the Modernist aesthetic, favored Modernist
techniques, “mythical methods,” cultural myths in America, the cultural situation of the
American writer, canonicity, the restructuring of U.S. literature, institutions of the literary
culture, literary awards, etc.
N.B.: In this “double-lecture course” two 2-hour lectures per week will be offered. Until the
last week of October these will be fully devoted to 19th-century American expressiveness;
during the rest of the semester we will be (re)visiting the first half of the 20th century. The
formal conclusion of the course will be an oral exam during the examination session in
December/January.
SCHEDULE of CLASSES: the 19th century
(1) Sept. 13: The American Renaissance: major cultural currents: Puritanism versus
Transcendentalism; Classification of American authors in the 19th century.
(2) Sept. 15: Transcendentalism and its legacy (I): Emerson – The foundations of
Transcendental philosophy (native and foreign sources, credo), the essays.
(3) Sept. 20: Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (III): Transcendentalism and Utopia, Brook
Farm, Fruitlands, Walden, and other reform experiments/movements: labor, antislavery, education.
(4) Sept. 24: PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF TIME: HABILITATION LECTURE:
Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (II): Thoreau and his Walden. Notions of progress,
social development and social change.
(5) Sept. 27: The Making of American Myths (I): Benjamin Franklin and the Myth of the
Self-Made Man (vertical mobility, the Horatio Alger formula). The Making of
American Myths (II): The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialisation.
(6) Sept. 29: The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (I) – New York and the
Knickerbocker group: George Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper .
(7) Oct. 04: The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (II): Edgar Allan Poe and the
beginnings of Literary Theory: “The Poetic Principle,” “The Philosophy of
Composition” —The Bicentennial Anniversary of Poe’s birth.
(8) Oct. 06: The new literature, major figures of the 19th century: (III) Nathaniel Hawthorne,
allegories of Puritan America in his tales.
(9) Oct. 11: The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (IV): Herman Melville’s
unique vision of race and ethnicity. The writing of the great American epic: MobyDick and its relevance.
(10) Oct. 13: The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (V): Feminist writing in
19th-century America: the Feminist Movement, Margaret Fuller, Kate Chopin.
(11) Oct. 18: From slavery to emancipation: aspects of African American thought (Phyllis
Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass,), the genre of the slave narrative.
(12) Oct. 20: Branches of regional humor and Mark Twain.
(13) Oct. 25: The great poets of the 19th century: Walt Whitman vs. Emily Dickinson.
(14) Oct. 27: Naturalism I. Some Theoretical Problems and Dilemmas of American
Naturalism (Stephen Crane).
SUBJECT DIVISIONS pertaining to the first half of the 20th century
(1) Varieties of American thought at century’s turn.
(2) Naturalism II: the case of Theodore Dreiser.
(3) The Progressive Era and the Muckraking movement. Upton Sinclair and the social novel.
(4) The Roaring Twenties: the Lost Generation in the Jazz Age.
(5) The social, ideological and literary climate of the Depression Era.
(6) The New Poetry: regional and aesthetic varieties. The New Englanders and the Prairie
Poets. Imagism. The Little Magazines.
(7) Main-Street America and the small-town novel. The Revolt from the Village. Sinclair
Lewis and Sherwood Anderson.
(8) The War Novel (WWI).
(9) Modernism (I): conceptuality, paradigm shifts.
(10) Modernism (II): the international scene.
(11) Modernism (III): alternative modernisms; American modernisms.
(12) Modernism (IV): the Modernist aesthetic and the Modernist sensibility.
(13) Modernism (V): experimental strategies and devices. Favored Modernist techniques.
(14) Modernism (VI): “mythical methods.”
(15) Modernism (VII): the old literature and the new. A survey of the major American
Modernists: Ezra Pond, T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes; William Faulkner, F. Scott
Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway; Eugene O’Neill and Thornton Wilder.
(16) African American writing in the first half of the century.
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING, SECONDARY
SOURCES, CRITICISM, COMMENTARY
(1) Ruland, Richard, and Malcolm Bradbury. From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History
of American Literature. New York: Viking, 1991.
(2) Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed., The Cambridge History of American Literature. vols. 1–8.
Cambridge/New York: Cambridge UP, 2005.
(3) Stauffer, Donald Barlow. A Short History of American Poetry. New York: Dutton, 1974.
(4) Virágos, Zsolt K. Portraits and Landmarks: The American Literary Culture in the 19th
Century. 7th edition, Debrecen: IEAS, 2010.
(5) Sarbu, Aladár. The Reality of Appearances: Vision and Representation in Emerson,
Hawthorne, and Melville. Budapest: Akadémia, 1996.
(6) Lawrence, D. H. Studies in Classic American Literature. New York: Seltzer, 1923.
(7) Matthiessen, F. O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and
Whitman London: Oxford UP, 1941.
(8) Chase, Richard. The American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst, MA: The Johns Hopkins
UP, 1989.
(9) Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. Stein and Day, 1960.
(10) Slotkin, Richard. The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of
Industrialization, 1800-1890. Oklahoma.: U of Oklahoma P, 1999.
(11) Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction. New
York: Oxford UP, 1986.
(12) Sundquist, Eric J. To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature.
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993.
(13) Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New
York: Knopf, 1993.
(14) Virágos, Zsolt. The Modernists and Others: The American Literary Culture in the Age of
the Modernist Revolution. Debrecen: University of Debrecen: IEAS, 2008 (3rd ed.).
(15) Bradbury, Malcolm. The Modern American Novel. Oxford/New York: Oxford UP, 1983.
(16) Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP,
2002.
(17) Weinstein, Philip M., ed., The Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1995.
(18) Coolidge, Olivia. Eugene O’Neill. New York: Scribner’s, 1966.
REQUIRED READING for the end-of-the-semester ORAL EXAM1
I. POETRY:
(1) Edgar Allan POE, "The Raven," "Ulalume," "Annabel Lee," “To Helen," "The
Conqueror Worm"
(2) Emily DICKINSON, poems numbered 49, 67, 214, 258, 303, 328, 341, 441, 449, 453,
478, 511, 585, 712, 829, 986, 1072, and 1175
(3) Walt WHITMAN, "Song of Myself" (paragraphs 1-21, 24, 33, 40, 41, 51, 52), "Out of
the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"
(1) Edwin Arlington ROBINSON, "RichardCory,” "Miniver Cheevy"
1
This is the list of the texts that you are supposed to have read by the time of the oral examination. Most of these
should be familiar to you from previously completed BA-level U.S. literature seminars. Those which are not or
which you think need refreshing, you should read or re-read.
(2) Robert FROST, "The Wood-Pile," "Stopping by Woods," "The Road Not Taken," "The
Death of the Hired Man," "After Apple-Picking," "Birches," "Fire and Ice," "West-Running Brook," "Blueberries"
(3) Carl SANDBURG, "Chicago," "The People, Yes," "I Am the People," "Gone," "Grass",
"Happiness", "Cool Tombs"
(4) Vachel LINDSAY, "General William Booth Enters into Heaven," "Abraham Lincoln
Walks at Midnight"
(5) Edgar Lee MASTERS, selections from Spoon River Anthology → "Elsa Wertman,"
"Hamilton Greene," "Shack Dye," "Yee Bow," "Mrs. Charles Bliss," "Benjamin
Pantier," "Mrs. Benjamin Pantier," "Reuben Pantier," "Dora Williams," "Emily
Sparks," "Trainor the Druggist," "Deacon Taylor," "Lucinda Matlock," "Anne
Rutledge"
(6) Amy LOWELL, "Patterns"
(7) Ezra POUND, "Canto I," "Canto XLV," "In a Station of the Metro"
(8) E.E. CUMMINGS, "If There Are Any Heavens," "[my sweet old etcetera]," "[Buffalo
Bill's]," "[anyone lived in a pretty how town]," "["next to of course god america i],"
"Up into the Silence the Green," "[l(a]"
(9) Langston HUGHES, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "Mother to Son," "Weary Blues,"
"Dream Boogie", "Harlem," "Green Memory"
(10) Marianne MOORE, "A Grave," "Poetry," “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing," "In Distrust
of Merits," "A Jelly-Fish"
(11) Archibald MACLEISH, "Ars Poetica," "You, Andrew Marvell"
(12) Countee CULLEN, "Heritage"
(13) Wallace STEVENS, "Sunday Morning," "The Idea of Order at Key West," "Not Ideas
about the Thing but the Thing Itself," "Of Modern Poetry"
(14) William Carlos WILLIAMS, "The Yachts," "Queen-Ann's-Lace," "Spring and All,"
"The Red Wheelbarrow"
II. SHORT PROSE NARRATIVES:
TALES & SHORT STORIES:
(1) Edgar Allan POE, "The Purloined Letter," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "A Descent
into the Maelström," "The Cask of Amontillado"
(2) Nathaniel HAWTHORNE, "Young Goodman Brown," "Rappaccini's Daughter," "My
Kinsman, Major Molineaux"
(3) Herman MELVILLE, "Benito Cereno," "Bartleby, the Scrivener"
(4) Stephen CRANE, "The Open Boat," "The Blue Hotel," "The Bride Comes to Yellow
Sky"
(1) Jack LONDON, "To Build a Fire" (1908)
(2) O.HENRY, "The Roads We Take"
(3) Willa CATHER, "Neighbor Rosicky" (1932)
(4) William SAROYAN, "Seventy Thousand Assyrians"
(5) Conrad AIKEN, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow" (1950)
(6) William FAULKNER, "A Rose for Emily" (1930), "Dry September" (1931),
"Delta Autumn" (1942)
(7) Ernest HEMINGWAY, "Big Two-Hearted River" (1925), "The Killers" (1927),
"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" (1936), "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
(1936)
(8) Zora Neale HURSTON, "The Gilded Six-Bits" (1933)
(9) Richard WRIGHT, "Big Boy Leaves Home" (1940)
III. NOVELS: FICTION and AUTOBIOGRAPHY
(1) Henry David THOREAU: Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854) (Chapter II and
“Conclusion”)
(2) Nathaniel HAWTHORNE: The Scarlet Letter (1850)
(3) Mark TWAIN: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
(4) Stephen CRANE: The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
(5) Frederick DOUGLASS: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, A Slave (1845)
(Chapters I,II, IV, V, IX, X)
(6) Kate CHOPIN: The Awakening (1899)
(1) Sinclair LEWIS, Main Street (1920)
(2) F. Scott FITZGERALD, The Great Gatsby (1925)
(3) Ernest HEMINGWAY, The Sun Also Rises (1929)
(4) William FAULKNER, The Sound and the Fury (1929)
IV. DRAMA
(1) Eugene O'NEILL, Mourning Becomes Electra (1931)
(2) Thornton WILDER, Our Town (1938)
V. MISCELLANEOUS PROSE (essay, review, address, etc.)
(1) Edgar Allan POE: “Poetic Principle,” "The Philosophy of Composition," Review of
Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales
(2) Ralph Waldo EMERSON: “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” “The American Scholar,”
“Divinity School Address,” “The Poet”
(3) Henry David THORAU: “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.”
(4) Walt WHITMAN: Preface to Leaves of Grass
(1) W. CATHER, "The Novel Démeublé" (1922)
(2) R. WRIGHT, "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow" (1937)
(3) W. FAULKNER, "Address upon Receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature" (1950)
!!IMPORTANT NOTICE!!:
Students are kindly requested to download and print the syllabi, andturn up at the first
lecture class with the hard copy of this syllabus. 2
2
To download them, please click on the hyperlinks.
Attached please also find the list of topics for the 19th-century part of your semester-end
oral exam.3
1. The American Renaissance: theory, conceptuality; major representatives
2. Puritanism versus Transcendentalism; comparison of tenets, concepts
3. Groups of 19th-century American authors in the ante-bellum period
4. Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (I): Ralph Waldo Emerson, his significance
5. Emerson’s major essays
6. The native and foreign sources of Transcendentalism
7. Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (II): Henry David Thoreau and his Walden.
8. Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”
9. Transcendentalism and Its Legacy (III): Transcendentalism and Utopia, Brook
Farm, Fruitland, Walden, and other reform experiments/movements: labor,
anti-slavery, education.
10. The Making of American Myths (I): Benjamin Franklin and the Myth of the SelfMade Man (vertical mobility, the Horatio Alger formula)
11. The Making of American Myths (II): The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of
Industrialisation.
12. The new literature: major figures of the 19th century (I) – The Knickerbocker
group: George Washington Irving and his tales.
13. James Fenimore Cooper and his Leatherstocking Tales
14. The new literature: major figures of the 19th century (II): Edgar Allan Poe and the
beginnings of Literary Theory: “The Poetic Principle,” “Philosophy of
Composition”
15. The classification of Poe’s tales.
16. The new literature: major figures of the 19th century (III): Nathaniel Hawthorne,
allegories of Puritan America in his tales.
17. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
18. The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (IV): Herman Melville’s
unique vision of race and ethnicity. The writing of the great American epic:
Moby-Dick and its relevance
19. Melville’s short stories: “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
20. The new literature, major figures of the 19th century (V): Feminist writing in 19thcentury America: the Feminist Movement, Margaret Fuller and “The Great
Lawsuit”
21. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
22. From Slavery to Emancipation: Aspects of African American Thought: Frederick
Douglass,’s Narrative;
23. Some theoretical problems and dilemmas of American naturalism: Stephen Crane,
his stories
24. Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage
25. Branches of regional humor and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn
26. The representation of race and racism in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn
3
A list of oral exam questions for the 20th century will be handed out in November 2010.
27. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” and “Out of the Cradle
Endlessly Rocking”
28. Emily Dickinson’s poetic universe.
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