English 273b

American History/American Fiction

Spring 2001, Thurs. 3-5

Barker Center 269 (Larsen Room)

Prof. John Stauffer

12 Quincy St. (Barker Center), #71

495-8440/ stauffer@fas.harvard.edu

Office hours: Wed/ Fri 3-5





The Following are available at the Coop.

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (Penguin)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Vintage)

William L. Andrews, ed., Three African-American Novels (Signet)

Herman Melville, Great Short Works of Herman Melville (Harper & Row)

Herman Melville, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (Northwestern)

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Norton)

Henry James, Washington Square (Penguin)

Theodore Dreiser, The Financier (Meridian)

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage)

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (Vintage)

John Dos Passos, The Big Money (Signet)

Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (HarperPerennial)

E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime (Bantam)

Toni Morrison, Beloved (Penguin)

Richard Slotkin, Abe (Henry Holt)

Course Pack: at Sir Speedy, 1001 Mass Ave (toward Central Square); 491-4018.

The course pack and books are also on reserve at Hollis.



Active Participation each week (20%)

Short Presentation (10%)

Introduce themes, background, and questions for a given week at the beginning of class.

Short Paper (10%):

5-6 page essay due March 8 that focuses on a theme from one of the texts.

Research Paper (60%):

18-22 page essay that incorporates secondary readings. Ideally the paper will offer an

original argument on the topic. Due Wed. May 23 at 5:00 in 071 Barker Center



Week One (February 1): Introduction


Week Two (February 8):

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826)

In Course Pack:

Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, pp. 1-88

Harry Henderson, Versions of the Past, Preface and Introduction

Richard Slotkin, "Myth and the Production of History"

George Dekker, The American Historical Romance, ch. 1


Richard Slotkin, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of

Industrialization, 1800-1890 (Middletown: Wesleyan U. Press, 1985), ch. 5 (an

elaboration of Slotkin's introduction to the Penguin edition of Last of the Mohicans.)

Harry B. Henderson, Versions of the Past: The Historical Imagination in American Fiction

(New York: Oxford U. Press, 1974), ch. 3.

Philip Fisher, Hard Facts: Setting and Form in the American Novel (New York: Oxford U.

Press, 1987), ch. 1.

Robert Clark, History, Ideology and Myth in American Fiction, 1823-52 (London: MacMillan

Press, 1984), ch. 4.

Daniel Peck, ed., New Essays on The Last of the Mohicans (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press,

1992), esp. essays by Daniel Peck, Terence Martin, and Shirley Samuels.

David French, "James Fenimore Cooper and Fort William Henry," American Literature, 32:1

(March 1960): 28-38.

William P. Kelly, Plotting America's Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales

(Carbondale: Southern Illinois U. Press, 1983), ch. 2.

Michael D. Butler, "Narrative Structure and Historical Process in The Last of the Mohicans,"

American Literature, 48:2 (May 1976): 117-139.


Week Three (February 15):

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850)

In Course Pack:

Michael Davitt Bell, Hawthorne and the Historical Romance of New England, chs. 1, 3

Sacvan Bercovitch, The Office of the Scarlet Letter, ch. 2


George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent

(Boston, 1834-76), vol. 1 (for contemporaneous history).

Susan Mizruchi, The Power of Historical Knowledge: Narrating the Past in Hawthorne, James,

and Dreiser (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1988), chs. 1-3.

Charles Swann, Nathaniel Hawthorne: Tradition and Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge U.

Press, 1991), ch. 4: "The Scarlet Letter and the Language of History"

Charles Ryskamp, "The New England Sources of The Scarlet Letter," American Literature, 31:3

(November 1959): 257-272.

Michael J. Colacurcio, "'The Woman's Own Choice': Sex, Metaphor, and the Puritan 'Sources'

of The Scarlet Letter," in Michael Colacurcio, ed., New Essays on The Scarlet Letter

(Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1985), ch. 4.

Michael Colacurcio, "Footsteps of Ann Hutchinson: The Context of The Scarlet Letter," English

Literary History, 39 (1972): 459-494.

Jonathan Arac, "The Politics of The Scarlet Letter," in Sacvan Bercovitch and Myra Jehlen,

eds., Ideology and Classic American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1986),

pp. 247-266.

James M. Cox, "Reflections on Hawthorne's Nature," in J. Gerald Kennedy and Daniel Mark

Fogel, eds., American Letters and the Historical Consciousness (Baton Rouge: Louisiana

State U. Press, 1987), pp. 137-157.

Roy Harvey Pearce, "Romance and the Study of History," in Brian Harding, ed., Nathaniel

Hawthorne: Critical Assessments, vol. 4 (Helm Information, 1995), pp. 128-142.


Week Four (February 22):

Frederick Douglass, "The Heroic Slave" (1853) in Three Classic African-American Novels

Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno" (1855) in Great Short Works of Herman Melville

Herman Melville, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855)

In Course Pack:

Amasa Delano, A Narrative of Voyages and Travels, ch. 18 (1817)

Maggie Montesinos Sale, The Slumbering Volcano, ch. 5

Eric J. Sundquist, To Wake the Nations, ch. 2 (first four sections)

Michael Paul Rogin, Subversive Genealogy, ch. 7


Alide Cagidemetrio, Fictions of the Past: Hawthorne and Melville (Amherst: U. of

Massachusetts Press, 1992), pp. 109-146, 161-183 (on Israel Potter).

Michael Paul Rogin, Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville

(Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1979), ch. 6.

Sacvan Bercovitch, The Rites of Assent: Transformations in the Symbolic Construction of

America (New York: Routledge, 1993), ch. 6: "Continuing Revolution."

Robert Stepto, "Storytelling in Early Afro-American Fiction: Frederick Douglass' 'The Heroic

Slave,'" Georgia Review, 36 (1982): 355-368.

Maurice S. Lee, "Melville's Subversive Political Philosophy: 'Benito Cereno' and the Fate of

Speech," American Literature, 72:3 (September 2000): 495-520.

Philip Fisher, Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction

(Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1999), ch. 3.

Carolyn Karcher, Shadow Over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race, and Violence in Melville's

America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U. Press, 1980).

James Kavanagh, "That Hive of Subtlety: 'Benito Cereno' and the Liberal Hero," in Sacvan

Bercovitch, ed., Ideology and Classic American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 1986), pp. 352-383.

Gloria Horsley-Meacham, "Bull of the Nile: Symbol, History, and Racial Myth in 'Benito

Cereno,'" New England Quarterly, 64 (June 1991): 225-42.

Sidney Kaplan, "Herman Melville and the American National Sin: The Meaning of 'Benito

Cereno,'" Journal of Negro History, 41 (October 1956): 311-338; vol. 42 (January 1957):


Jean Fagan Yellin, "Black Masks: Melville's 'Benito Cereno,'" American Quarterly, 22 (Fall


Sterling Stuckey, Going Through the Storm: The Influence of African-American Art in History

(New York: Oxford U. Press, 1994), chs. 9-10.


Week Five (March 1):

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

In Course Pack:

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays (1898), chs. 4-5.

Nina Tiffany, "Stories of the Fugitive Slaves," New England Magazine (1889)

Hayden White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact"

Alan Trachtenberg, "The Form of Freedom in Huckleberry Finn"


Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, 1892; New York: Collier

Books, 1962). A contemporaneous African-American narrative of slavery and freedom.

Roger B. Soloman, Twain and the Image of History (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1961).

Michael Egan, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: Race, Class, and Society (Sussex: Sussex U.

Press, 1977), ch. 4.

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices (New

York: Oxford U. Press, 1993).

Eric J. Sundquist, ed., Mark Twain: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice

Hall, 1994).

Louis J. Budd, ed., New Essays on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Cambridge: Cambridge

U. Press, 1985).

Harold Beaver, Huckleberry Finn (London: Unwin Hyman, 1987).

Gerald Graff and James Phelan, eds., Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Case

Study in Critical Controversy (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995).


Week Six (March 8):


Henry James, Washington Square (1880)

In Course Pack:

Henry James, Hawthorne (1879, ch. 5) and "The Art of Fiction" (1884)

Ian F.A. Bell, Henry James and the Past, chs. 1-2

Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, Part 3, chs. 1-2.


Richard Brodhead, The School of Hawthorne (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1986), chs. 6-8

Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture & Society in the Gilded Age (New

York: Hill and Wang, 1982), ch. 6 ("Fictions of the Real")

Millicent Bell, "Style as Subject: Washington Square," Sewanee Review, 83 (1975).

Jean-Christophe Agnew, "The Consuming Vision of Henry James," in R.W. Fox and T.J. Jackson

Lears, eds., The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-

1980 (New York: Pantheon, 1983).

Roslyn Jolly, Henry James: History, Narrative, Fiction (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1994), chs. 1-2.

Susan Mizruchi, The Power of Historical Knowledge, ch. 5 (James's Bostonians)

Carolyn Porter, Seeing and Being: The Plight of the Participant Observer in Emerson, James,

Adams, and Faulkner (Middletown: Wesleyan U. Press, 1981), chs. 1-2, 5.

Ian F.A. Bell, ed., Henry James: Fiction as History (London: Vision Press, 1984).

Richard Poirier, The Comic Sense of Henry James: A Study of the Early Novels (New York:

Oxford U. Press, 1960), pp. 165-182.

Ross Posnock, The Trial of Curiosity: Henry James, William James, and the Challenge of

Modernity (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1991), ch. 10.


Week Seven (March 15):

Theodore Dreiser, The Financier (1912)

In Course Pack:

Walter Benn Michaels, The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism, ch. 2

Philip L. Gerber, "Dreiser's Financier: A Genesis"


Ida M. Tarbell, The History of the Standard Oil Company, 2 vols. (New York, 1904). A

contemporaneous history; for "briefer version," see David Chalmers edition (W.W.

Norton, 1966).

Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899; New York: Dover, 1994), esp. chs. 1-2,

4, 10-11, 13 (contemporaneous sociology).

William Graham Sumner, The Challenge of Facts and Other Essays (New Haven: Yale U.

Press, 1914). Contemporaneous philosophy.

Donald Pizer, The Novels of Theodore Dreiser: A Critical Study (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota

Press, 1976), pp. 153-182.

F.O. Matthiessen, Theodore Dreiser (New York: William Sloan, 1950), pp. 127-158.


Week Eight (March 22):

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)

In Course Pack:

W.J. Howlett, Life of the Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf (1908), chs. 12-13, 17-18,



Willa Cather, "On Death Comes for the Archbishop," On Writing (New York: Knopf, 1949).

E.K. Brown, Willa Cather: A Critical Biography (1953; Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1987),

ch. 9

John H. Randall, The Landscape and the Looking Glass: Willa Cather's Search for Value

(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), pp. 247-309.

Merrill Maguire Skaggs, After the World Broke in Two: The Later Novels of Willa Cather

(Charlottesville: U. Press of Virginia, 1990), chs. 1, 7.

Janis P. Stout, Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World (Charlottesville: U. Press of

Virginia, 2000), ch. 9.

John J. Murphy, "Willa Cather's Archbishop: A Western and Classical Perspective," in

Harold Bloom, ed., Willa Cather (New York: Chelsea House, 1985), pp. 161-170.


Week Nine: Spring Break


Week Ten (April 5):

John Dos Passos, The Big Money (1936)

Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday (1931), chs. 1, 3-5, 10-13.

In Course Pack:

John Dos Passos, "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "An Open Letter to President Lowell"

Kenneth S. Lynn, "Only Yesterday" in The Air-Line to Seattle

Steven Biel, "Frederick Lewis Allen's Only Yesterday"


John P. Diggins, "Visions of Chaos and Visions of Order: Dos Passos as Historian," American

Literature, 46:3 (November 1974): 329-346.

James N. Westerhoven, "Autobiograpical Elements in the Camera Eye," American Literature,

48:3 (November 1976): 340-364.

Claude-Edmonde Magny, "Time in Dos Passos," in Andrew Hook, ed., Dos Passos: A Collection

of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1974), pp. 128-144.

Melvin Landsberg, Dos Passos' Path to U.S.A.: A Political Biography, 1912-1936 (Boulder:

Colorado Associated U. Press, 1972), pp. 187-227.

Jean-Paul Sartre, "John Dos Passos and 1919," in Barry Maine, ed., Dos Passos: The Critical

Heritage (London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 167-175.


Week Eleven (April 12): Southern History

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

Gone With The Wind (1939 film). Sreening time and place tba.

In Course Pack:

David Levin, In Defense of Historical Literature, ch. 6.

Carolyn Porter, Seeing and Being, preface, chs. 7-8.


Cleanth Brooks, William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1978).

Daniel J. Singal, William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist (Chapel Hill: U. of North

Carolina Press, 1997), ch. 8.

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (Cambridge: Harvard U.

Press, 1984), ch. 11.

Barbara Ladd, "'The Direction of the Howling': Nationalism and the Color Line in Absalom,

Absalom!," American Literature, 66:3 (September 1994): 525-551.

Patricia Tobin, "The Time of Myth and History in Absalom, Absalom!," in American

Literature, 45:2 (May 1973): 252-270.

David Levin, In Defense of Historical Literature: Essays on American History, Autobiography,

Drama, and Fiction (New York: Hill & Wang, 1967), chs. 1, 6.

Joel Williamson, William Faulkner and Southern History (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1993).

C. Vann Woodward, "The Burden for William Faulkner," in The Burden of Southern History

(1960; Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U. Press, 1993).


Week Twelve (April 19):

E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime (1975)

In Course Pack:

E.L. Doctorow, "False Documents" (1977)

Jonathan Hughes, "J. Pierpont Morgan, the Investment Banker as Statesman" (1965)

Barbara Foley, "From U.S.A. to Ragtime" (1978)


E.L. Doctorow, "A Citizen Reads the Constitution" (1987), in Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution: Selected Essays, 1977-1992 (New York: Random House, 1993).

Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1977). Contemporaneous history.

Christopher D. Morris, ed., Conversations with E.L. Doctorow (Jackson: U. Press of Mississippi, 1999).

Frank Kermode, The Sense of An Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1966; New York: Oxford U. Press, 2000).


Week Thirteen (April 26):

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

In Course Pack:

Samuel Joseph May, "Margaret Garner and seven others"

Ashraf H. Rushdy, "Daughters Signifyin(g) History: The Example of Toni Morrison"


William L. Andrews and Nellie Y. McKay, eds., Toni Morrison's Beloved (New York: Oxford

U. Press, 1999). Essays by Holloway, Henderson, Krumholz.

Marianne DeKoven, "Postmodernism and Post-Utopian Desire in Toni Morrison and E.L.

Doctorow," in Nancy Peterson, ed., Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches

(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1997), pp. 111-130.

Richard C. Moreland, "'He Wants to put his Story Next to Hers': Putting Twain's Story Next to

Hers in Morrison's Beloved," in Peterson, ed., Toni Morrison, pp. 155-179.

Sylvia Mayer, "'You Like Huckleberries?': Toni Morrison's Beloved and Mark Twain's

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," in Werner Sollors and Maria Diedrich, eds., The

Black Columbiad: Defining Moments in African American Literature and Culture

(Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1994), pp. 337-346.

Carl Plasa, ed., Toni Morrison: Beloved (New York: Columbia U. Press, 1998).

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York:

Vintage Books, 1993).


Week Fourteen (May 3):

Richard Slotkin, Abe (1999)

Discussion with Slotkin on History, Fiction, and Historical Fiction.


Research Paper Due on Wednesday, May 23 at 5:00 in 071 Barker Center