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Forms of Democracy in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature

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Forms of Democracy in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature

This graduate seminar will explore two central concerns in American literary studies: what is “democratic” about literature written in the United States? And how does the problem of representative politics influence literary and textual representation? Over the course of the term we will discusss the different ways in which major authors and literary scholars have addressed these questions. Our readings will include classic and contemporary works of democratic theory; critical readings that explore the relationship between verbal and political representation; and a range of literary works that foreground the problem of mediation and its relationship to democratic politics. Among these literary works will be Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin, House of the Seven Gables, selections from Emily Dickinson's manuscript fascicles, Margaret Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century, Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon, William Apess's Eulogy on King Philip, selected speeches by Daniel Webster, Henry Highland Garnet, and Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown's Clotel, and John Rollin Ridge's Joaquin Murieta.
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