English 5750 sec 250 Seminar in American Literature:
Illustrated Magazines, 1850-1900
Summer Term II (July 10-August 9) 2012, East TN State University
Note to prospective students:
Here is an overview of the seminar and the readings. I will post full course info, including a a calendar of specific assignments, here by June. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please contact me. -- Kevin O'Donnell, March 18, 2012
TR 5-8:45pm, Ross Hall 215
Summer Term II: July 10 - August 9, 2012
- Nicholson Baker. Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. Vintage, 2002. $15.00 ISBN: 0375726217
- Rebecca Harding Davis. Life in the Iron Mills (Bedford Cultural Editions). Ed. Cecelia Tichi. Bedford/ St. Martins, 1997. $15.00 ISBN: 031213360X
- Henry James. Selected Tales. Ed. John Lyon. Penguin, 2001. $16.00 ISBN: 0140436944
- Herman Melville. Great Short Works of Herman Melville. Perrenial, 2004. $13.99 ISBN: 0060586540
- Louis Menand. The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. $16.00 ISBN: 0374528497
- James Nagel and Tom Quirk, eds. The Portable American Realism Reader. Penguin, 1997. 18.00 ISBN: 0140268308
- Kevin E. O'Donnell and Helen Hollingsworth, editors. Seekers of Scenery: Travel Writing from Southern Appalachia, 1840-1900. U of Tennessee Press, 2004. (Note--Do not purchase this book! I have desk copies that I will loan to enrolled students.)
- Mark Twain. Life on The Mississippi. Signet 2009. $4.95 ISBN: 0451531205
- Sarah Vowell. Assassination Vacation. Simon and Schuster, 2006. $15.00 ISBN: 074326004X
- You will also purchase a volume of a 19th century literary magazine, from an online source such as abebooks.com or ebay. You will select the magazine after consulting with me, and after research and class discussion. Likely cost: between $10 and $30. Here is an example of the kind of volume you might purchase:
Bookseller: Better World Books (Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.)
Book Condition: Good. N/A. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside.
Available on abebooks.com for $9.37, shipping free, on Friday, Nov 4, 2011.
Have you ever been over to the collapsible stacks on the 2nd floor of the Sherrod Library? Tucked away in a back room, on those mechanical shelves, are full runs of America's great 19th century literary magazines--Harper's, Scribners, the Atlantic, Appleton's, Lippincott's. Those crumbling, leather-bound volumes are a treasure trove of American literary culture, for those who have eyes to see. Around 1850, a confluence of circumstances--economic, technological, and cultural--led to the flourishing of American periodicals. Here, many of the great works that now comprise America's literary canon first saw publication. In these volumes, fiction appears alongside poetry, side-by-side with intriguing nonfiction and beautiful, woodblock engravings.
For this seminar, students will read classic, 19th century American literature in the context of the literary culture that gave rise to it. The focus is on short fiction, by authors whose names you already know--Twain, Melville, James, Chopin, Jewett, and many others. We'll also read essays and travel writing, including work by once-famous authors who have fallen into obscurity. We'll take advantage of the wonderful Sherrod Library periodical collection; and we'll learn about the digitizing projects, such as "Making of America," that have emerged in recent years to make these texts available on line. In addition, you'll read about art history, to understand the engravings that illustrate the literature. You'll also learn about the history of the book, and we'll read some modern prognostications about the way the book trade is evolving, and how text technology can affect your reading experience.
1. Students will write a short cultural history of the publication of a major work. (8 pages or so.) Sarah Vowell is our model for how to write about cultural history in a fun, engaging way.
2. Students will also edit a critical edition of an important 19th century literary work, and post it online. (We'll talk in class about what it means to "edit a critical edition"!)
Links/ Miscellaneous Readings
Making of America" sites, containing online archives of 19th century American periodicals:
- Periodicals at Cornell U site: http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/moa_browse.html
- Periodicals at U of Michigan site: http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moajrnl/
Examples of articles I've written, related to 19thc American Periodicals:
- "Book and Periodical Illustration [in America, 1820-1870]." American History through Literature, 1820-1870. Ed. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. 144-48.
Ray Kurzweil, on the history and evolution of the book: The Future of Libraries. From Library Journal, 1992.