Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE American Literature of the Nineteenth Century 2

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The first part of this study-unit introduces students to nineteenth century American poetry, while the second part presents some of the best examples of the nineteenth century American short story.

The Romantic Movement originated in Germany but quickly spread to England, France and beyond. It reached America around the year 1820, some 20 years after William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge had revolutionized English poetry by publishing Lyrical Ballads. In America, as in Europe, a fresh new vision emerged as poets responded to local realities. The first part of this study-unit focuses on three major 19th Century American poets: Edgar Allan Poe; Walt Whitman; Emily Dickinson. Reference will also be made to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The second part of this study-unit presents some important examples of nineteenth century American short fiction. Works by Hawthorne, Poe and Melville will provide material for a study focused on the social, political and philosophical concerns of the time, as well as on the formal qualities of the genre of short fiction in nineteenth century America. The following stories are for detailed study:
- Nathaniel Hawthorne: My Kinsmen, Major Molineux, Roger Malvin’s Burial, The Gentle Boy, Young Goodman Brown, Rappaccini’s Daughter, The Birthmark, Ethan Bran and The Minister’s Black Veil;
- Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado, The Premature Burial, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Imp of the Perverse, M S Found in a Bottle, Ligeia, The Oval Portrait, The Gold-Bug;
- Herman Melville: Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, Billy Budd, Foretopman.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- G R Thompson (ed.) The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe: Authoritative Texts, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism (Norton Critical Edition: 2004).
- Arthur Hobson Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe: a Critical Biography, (John Hopkins UP: 1997).
- Kevin Hayes, Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, (Cambridge: 2002).
- Kenneth Silverman (ed.) New Essays on Poe’s Major Tales (Cambridge: 1993).
- Grahame Clarke (ed.) Edgar Allen Poe: Critical Assessments (Helm Info: 1991).
- Edgar Allan Poe Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Poems Tales Criticism (Harper Perennial Modern Classics: 2004).
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson’s Prose and Poetry, Norton Critical Edition, Joel Porte & Saundra Morris (eds.). (Norton: 2001).
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass and other writings, Norton Critical Edition, Michael Moon (ed.) (Norton: 2002).
- Ezra Greenspan, Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge UP: 1995).
- Wendy Martin, Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson, (Cambridge UP: 2002).
- James McIntosh (ed.) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales (Norton Critical Edition: 1987).
- Dan McCall (ed.) Melville’s Short Novels (Norton Critical Edition: 2002).
- Richard Chase (ed.) Melville a Collection of Critical Essays (Twentieth Century Views: 1962).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Stella Borg Barthet

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