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19th Century American Literature


At the end of this course, students should be able to:


Be sure to read the faculty letter of introduction for information from and about your instructor for this term and section of the course. Any additional instructions or requirements he or she presents supercede these instructions. If you did not receive a letter of introduction from your faculty member, contact the HUX office immediately to request a replacement.


  • Hawthorne:
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
  • Melville:
Moby-Dick (1851)
Billy Budd, Foretopman (1890/1924)
  • Twain:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)
  • Howells:
The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890)
  • James:
The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
The Turn of the Screw (1898)

Included in this course guide are required-reading essays on these authors by D. H. Lawrence, W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, Henry James, and Graham Greene, along with a Radio Symposium on The Turn of the Screw.

Note: You are not required to use the particular editions of the texts that will be available through the CSUDH University Bookstore; editions are provided simply for your convenience. All of the books are easily and readily available in local libraries, in mass-market paperback stores, and of course, in used book stores.


Each assignment is due in the instructor’s mailbox during the week indicated below. Count Week 1 as the first week that classes begin and Week 14 as the final week of the term. Trimester dates are listed at the upper left hand corner of your registration form.

All papers must be typed, with footnotes and bibliographies where appropriate, and mailed in before the assignment deadline. Send in an extra copy, marked "For HUX Files," and keep a copy for yourself. Also, keep a copy of the title page of the paper returned by the instructor which contains your grade, comments, and date. Send a self-addressed, stamped (with adequate postage) envelope for the return of each assignment. If you do not fully understand the assignment or need help, telephone the instructor during office hours, or mail in your questions.

Reading assignments. This schedule is not rigidly fixed as long as final paper is received by week 14.

Weeks 1-3 Hawthorne: Read the novels and the essay by D. H. Lawrence.
Weeks 4-6 Melville: Read the novels and the essay by W. H. Auden.
Weeks 7-9 Twain: Read the novels and the essay by T. S. Eliot.
Weeks 10-12 Howells: Read the novels and the essay by Henry James.
Weeks 13-14 James: Read the novels and the essay by Graham Greene, as well as the Radio Symposium on The Turn of the Screw.

Writing assignments will be reiterated in each of the author sections in this course guide.


Now that you have read the novels and consulted secondary source material, it is time to write your Hawthorne paper, if you have chosen OPTION A (A, I suppose, would be a very appropriate option for Hawthorne!). You may develop and work out your own topic; you may be guided by the suggestions offered under "Motifs, Strategies, and Themes"; you may find ideas and directions amidst the secondary sources. Document (footnote!) your sources fully.


Paper #2, Option A: Melville

Paper #1, Option B: Hawthorne & Melville (suggested)


Paper #3 for Option A: Twain

Option B: Paper #2 due end of next week.


Paper #4, Option A: Howells

Or, paper #2, Option B: Twain & Howells (suggested)

(Actually, Paper #2, Option B is a bit overdue!!!)


Write Paper #5 Option A: James

Or, Paper #3 Option B: James & Twain (suggested)

You will have completed the course writing assignments at this point if under Option A you have submitted the five required papers, or if under Option B you have submitted the three required papers.

Assignment Option A - Five (5) Papers

Due: Weeks 3, 6, 9, 12, and 14
Length: approximately 6-10 pages each
Format: q Write your papers, devoting each to analysis/exploration of some area(s) of one of the two works read from each author. You may generate your own topic, or you may be guided by some approach suggested in the "Motifs, Strategies and Themes" section of the course guide. As each of the authors is completed, a paper is due. Do NOT submit all papers at one time.

Assignment Option B - Three (3) Papers

Due: Weeks 5, 10, and 14 (this schedule is not rigidly fixed as long as final paper is received by week 14)
Length: approximately 10-15 pages each
Format: q Write your papers, devoting each to studies within groupings of your own choice: for instance, Hawthorne & Melville, Twain & Howells, James & Hawthorne, etc. Each of the five authors studied MUST BE represented in your selections. These papers may explore comparisons/contrasts, sources/influences, ideas/language, symbols/methods, etc., involving two novels, one by each of the authors examined in the paper. Dealing in tandem with two writers may demand flexibility in your reading and writing (hence the flexible schedule). Do NOT submit all papers at one time.

In each author section of the course guide, there is encouragement for you to consult secondary sources beyond the essays included in the guide. To expedite this important exercise, I have compiled a modest bibliography for each author. This bibliography of secondary sources is by no means definitive. The major American writers studied in this course have literally been the subjects of hundreds of critical and biographical works. You will be able to find many useful and valuable sources not listed in the course guide. Consultation of secondary sources will acquaint you with theories on the novels, varying interpretations of character and theme, insights into the author’s aesthetic vision, and even controversial readings of these important texts. Reading some scholar-critics will help increase your appreciation and awareness of the literary achievement of these novelists.

A final note for all papers in Options A & B: Do not give biographical surveys of the authors. Do not write, say, "In order to understand better Moby Dick, it is necessary/important/vital to remember this about Herman Melville. He was born... His father was... etc." Don’t. Concentrate exclusively and ruthlessly on the text(s) you have chosen to examine.

Please enjoy the readings (this is a course requirement!) and try to enjoy the writing (a less rigid requirement!).

HUXCRSGD.575 - http://www.csudh.edu/hux/syllabi/575/1.html
Copyright © 1999 California State University Dominguez Hills