ENGL-202 The Frontier and the City in American Literature
Spring for 2009-2010
The Frontier and the City in American Literature
The historian Frederick Jackson Turner declared in 1893 that the frontier of the North American continent had been instrumental in shaping “the American character,” influencing its societies, economies, and political systems from before the European settlement of North America through the nineteenth century. An acute consciousness of the power and the potential of the environment marks the literature of the early United States and especially of the nineteenth century, as the frontier was contested and redefined and, eventually, according to Turner, closed. This course will explore how the representation of the frontier in American literature became a field upon which concepts of race, gender, class, and individual and national identity competed and were articulated. It will then consider how American literature dealt with the losing of the frontier by the end of the nineteenth century and the emergence of the city as the “new frontier” of a twentieth- and twenty-first century nation transformed by technology, urbanization, and its international role. Texts primarily from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will include short fiction and non-fiction by writers such as Hawthorne, Emerson, and Dickinson; novels by writers such as Wharton, Fitzgerald, and Ellison; literary criticism and environmental history; and visual texts such as painting, film, and architecture.
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Fall '09: Nanney L (description, file download)
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