Fall 2008

Reading Historically

Listed in: English, as ENGL-05


Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler (Section 01)


This course explores the relation between literature and history. How does fiction work to interpret and understand the past? Can literary texts serve as historical evidence, providing information about social conditions and beliefs in a particular place and time? In what ways might other sorts of historical documentation affect or amplify the reading of literature? We will address these questions through specific examples and through theoretical readings that address issues of narration, memory, and the continuance of the past. The theme changes each time the course is taught. In 2008 we will focus on American literature and in particular on writing that confronts the social “problem” of the unmarried woman. Texts will include Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Stephen Crane’s Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Mei Ng’s Eating Chinese Food Naked. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor K. Sanchez-Eppler.