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English 85, Week 1 Notes

by: Sarah Jay

English 85, Week 1 Notes ENGL 85

Marketplace > Foreign Language > ENGL 85 > English 85 Week 1 Notes
Sarah Jay

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These notes are the background that Dimuro gave us during Week 1 including the themes of the novels, reasons behind canonization, and a the general historical background he gave us
American Novel
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American Novels




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Jay on Saturday January 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 85 at a university taught by Dimuro in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views.


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Date Created: 01/09/16
English 85 American Novel Joseph Dimuro Week 1­ Introduction to Course Main Themes in Novels:  American Women and the Issue of Freedom/ Resistance  How Novels Process and Represent Historical Transformation  Institution of Slavery and the Repressed Content of American Identity I. American Women and the Issue of Freedom/ Resistance A. Ruth Hall by Fanny Fern 1. Women oppression 2. Cultural experiences of how women lived 3. Written by Fanny Fern (Sarah Wayson Pillis) a) Had celebrity status in the 1850s when the novel was published b) Supported correlation between members of dominant culture and  the materials they produce/ consume B. The Awakening by Kate Chopin 1. Started off with terrible reviews 2. Slipped off radar but reappeared later on college lists along with Ruth Hall and other woman­written novels II. How Novels Process and Represent Historical Transformation A. A Modern Instance by William Dean Howells 1. Treats divorce as an American theme 2. One of the first novels to really go into the psychology of divorce and  allow it to be the norm B. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 1. Retrospective look at elite NY society 2. Shifts in accumulation of wealth and change in morals C. Differences in Novels Written in the Historical and Present View 1. Meaning of passage of time a) Historical view: can write over the passage of decades or even  centuries b) Present view: days, weeks, months 2. Nature of reality a) Historical view: often features more embellishments or lies to fill  in plot gaps b) Present view: since they are writing while the event is happening,  there are more first­hand factual details III. Institution of Slavery and the Repressed Content of American  Identity A. The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chestnutt 1. Dramatic recounting of massacre in Wilmington, NC a) Jobs went to blacks causing anger among former Confederates b) 2,000 men burnt down African American newspaper building  (Daily Record) c) Infantry called in but only added to the violence d) Restored white majority in Wilmington B. Beloved by Toni Morrison 1. Based on Margaret Garner (“Peggy”) a) Her, her three children, her husband, and other slaves escaped  plantation to go to Ohio and the Canada b) Caught in Ohio and turned in under Fugitive Slave Law c) Mother murders infant and attempts to murder other children to  keep them out of slavery 2. Explores the psychology and morality behind Garner’s decision IV. Culture of America in the 1850s A. Known as the “American Renaissance” 1. Flowering of American literature before Civil War a) Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Stowe, Thoreau 2. Term coined by Francis Otto Matthiessen  a) Analyzed that specific period and found root of expanding  literature to be: (1) More leisure time (2) Time of cool peace before the Civil War broke out V. Canonization of Novels A. Canon 1. A collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine or authentic B. Universities act as main conduit 1. Consensus of readers and professors a) Books that speak to us b) Endure for generations as classics c) Reflect and work through the culture we are interested in (1) Once they cease to accomplish this, they will erode into  obscurity until the general feeling in current culture mirrors the  tone/ theme of the novel once again 2. Popular v. Canon a) Popular novels tap into a cultural fad but do not necessarily endure (1) i.e. Twilight b) Canonized novels endure for generations and are regarded as  “classics” (1) i.e. Moby Dick c) Books we are reading in this time period may be a later  generation’s definition of a “classic” VI. Classification of Novels as Literature A. Dependent on the general consensus of scholars and the meaning we take  from the novels B. Historical and social reasons for reliance of literature 1. Involvement in Vietnam War  a) Caused domestic disruption 2. Civil Rights Movement a) University students protested war and inequality b) This “counter­culture” was regarded as conventional liberalism 3. Successful campaigns to broaden curriculum to include previously  forgotten literature 4. More cultural backgrounds led to an increased spectrum of theme a) Reading about one’s culture was reaffirming


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