Fall 2012

Hawthorne, Melville, and Literary Friendship

Listed in: English, as ENGL-452


Geoffrey D. Sanborn (Section 01)


During a mountain picnic in the summer of 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville struck up a private conversation. That champagne-fueled talk led to an intense, maddening, and relatively brief friendship, a friendship that grew out of writing, that was mediated by writing, and that can only be approached by way of writing.  What was it like?  How did it affect each of them?  What might it suggest about the nature of the intimacies that are made possible by words on a page?  In pursuit of the answers to these and other questions, we will read everything that Hawthorne and Melville wrote between July 1849 and December 1852.  That will mean reading, in addition to White-Jacket, The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, The House of the Seven Gables, A Wonder Book, Pierre, and The Blithedale Romance, all of their letters, journals, and marginalia.  We will also take trips to Melville’s house in Pittsfield and the House of the Seven Gables in Salem.

Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Sanborn.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012