Section 1: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 11:00-11:50 AM
Professor: Ben Bascom
Hermits, wanderers, and other figures of solitude. feature prominently in nineteenth-century American literature. From the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson to invented characters by Washington Irving and Herman Melville, one can imagine a plenitude of lonely figures in the American nineteenth century. Indeed, the canonical Moby-Dick concludes (spoiler alert!) with Ishmael clutching onto an empty coffin, left adrift at sea as the last survivor of the decimated Pequod. In this course, we will trace a literary history of the lone figure in the nineteenth century as a way to explore the cultural value of artistic alienation. We will focus particularly on how the lonely figure has come to inform still-prevalent myths about writers and their modes of creativity. Our reading list may include works by Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Frederick Douglass, Fanny Fern, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville, among others.