Twain mask Behind a Mask: Fakes, Frauds, and Fictions of Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
Fall 2012  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:25-2:40, CUE 318   
Dr.
Donna Campbell, campbelld@wsu.edu
357 Avery ,509-335-4831
Office Hours: 9-10, 2:50-3:30 T, Th and by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours via Google Chat or Skype; email me for information.

The United States has always been a place, or has considered itself to be a place, in which people are free to reinvent themselves. For those who move to another territory or city and assume a new name, become outlaws or are escaping from a criminal past, or disguise themselves to pass as belonging to a race, social class, or gender not their own, identity is a fluid concept, not a fixed one. This course explores the diverse themes, social contexts, and intellectual backgrounds of the American novel from its beginnings in romantic tradition through the realist and naturalist movements of the late nineteenth century.  We’ll investigate the novels in terms of their formal properties as well as through social contexts and issues of race, class, and gender, but a larger question we’ll address involves American identity: how does this collection of works, which includes examples of cross-racial and cross-gender disguises,outlaws, artists, idealists, monomaniacs, prostitutes, and murderers, constitute a picture of nineteenth-century America? What concepts of individualism, equality, and justice do these authors portray, and to what extent does the reality of life in the U.S. meet the patriotic rhetoric about its ideas of freedom?

Required Textbooks

Clemens, Samuel Pudd'nhead Wilson 2007 Signet / 978-0451530745
Alcott, Louisa May Behind a Mask    
Johnson, James Weldon The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man 1995 Dover / 978-0486285122
Norris, Frank McTeague 1997 Norton Critical, 2nd. ed. / 978-0393970135
Melville, Herman Moby-Dick 2001 Norton Critical, 2nd ed. / 978-0393972832
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Blithedale Romance 1983 Penguin / 978-0140390285
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth 1984

Bantam / 978-0553213201

 

If you are planning to download free online versions, which should be possible for all of these books, that's fine, but you should be aware that online versions may not have all the material. You are still responsible for reading all the material, including assigned essays that are often available only in the print copy of the book, and you will still be tested on the assigned material even if it is not available electronically. Obtaining these materials (possibly from other class members) is your responsibility, since they will not be made available online or on reserve.