English 207:
Big Books of American Literature
Bryn Mawr College
Spring 2006

"Alchemies of Mind":
The Emotional Landscape of
Classical Nineteenth-Century Texts


English House Lecture Hall
Tuesday and Thursday, 10-11:30
Anne Dalke (adalke@brynmawr.edu)

From Artography Canada

"Art is a symbolic presentation...of feeling."
(Suzanne Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art, 1953)

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you

(e.e. cummings, 1973)

Emerson Fibs

Course Finale
On-line Course Forum

Lecture and Discussion Notes
Student Web Papers

Class Roster

Mid-Semester Evaluations

This course offers an exploration of the role emotion plays in writing and reading the classics of nineteenth-century American literature. We'll study four 19th-century American "big books": Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We will also read one "mid-size" 19th-century literary text, Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw," and essays by William James, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Adam Smith, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller. In addition, to help us in understanding what emotion is and how we use it, we will do some selected reading and have guest lectures in biology, philosophy, psychology and economics.

Together, we will think, talk and write our ways through this range of literary, cultural and scientific stories, asking what the relationship of emotion has been to the academic work we do, generally, and to the reading of classic American literary texts, in particular. As we read and revise what these texts might mean, we will ask how the relation between cognition and emotion ("thinking and feeling") might be configured differently.

Students will be expected to contribute to the education of their colleagues as well as to those beyond the bi-co by participating in a weekly on-line forum, and by putting their papers on the web.

Course Requirements:

"Emotion," 2002

T, 1/17: Feeling and Thinking
Mariah Carey, "Emotions"

James Averill, "I Feel, Therefore I Am--I Think." The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions. Ed. Paul Ekman and Richard Davidson. New York: Oxford, 1994. 379-385.

James Elkins, "The Ivory Tower of Tearlessness." The Chronicle Review (November 9, 2001).

Th, 1/19: Feeling and Reading
Before class: post on-line a description of your reading experience
(=your emotional response to and post-reflections about) Henry James,
"The Turn of the Screw." 1898; rpt. Litrix Reading Room

T, 1/24
"The Turn of the Screw" continued

Th, 1/26: Regulating Emotion--What Moves Us, How and Why
William James, "What Is an Emotion?" Mind 9: 1884; rpt. Classics in the History of Psychology: An Internet Resrouce

Sigmund Freud. From "The Unconscious." 1915. "Anxiety." From A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. 1916-17. Rpt. What Is an Emotion? Classic and Contemporary Readings. 2nd edition. Ed. Robert Solomon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 98-109.

-----. Civilization and its Discontents. 1930; trans. and ed. James Strachey. New York: W.W. Norton, 1961. 11-35.

M, 1/30: opportunity for first 5-pp. paper, on Freud and/or the Jameses

T, 1/31
Guest Lecture by Peter Brodfuehrer (Department of Biology)

Charles Darwin, Chapters 1-3. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. 1872. Rpt. New York: Oxford, 1998. 33-87. (See also The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web.)

Antonio Damasio. "Biological Regulation and Survival" and "Emotions and Feelings." Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. 114-164.

Emotion Processing

Th, 2/2-T, 2/14
Herman Melville. Moby-Dick. 1851; rpt. Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Hershel Parker, Harrison Hayford. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

Th, 2/16: Reading Emotion--Our Literary Preferences
(recommended reading:)

W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley. "The Intentional Fallacy" and "The Affective Fallacy." The Verbal Icon, 1954; rpt. Critical Theory Since Plato, ed. Hazard Adams. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971. 1014-1031.

Jane Tompkins. "An Introduction to Reader-Response Criticism" and "The Reader in History: The Changing Shape of Literary Response." Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. ix-xxvi, 201-232.

Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson. Introduction. Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. 1-23.

Fri, 2/17: opportunity for second 5-pp. paper, on Moby-Dick

T, 2/21-Th, 3/2
Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom's Cabin. 1852; rpt. Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York; W.W. Norton, 1994.

Brain and Emotions Research (2001)

T, 3/7-Th, 3/9 SPRING BREAK

T, 3/14: Thinking Emotion--Cognition and Choice

Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter. 1850; rpt. Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Sculley Bradley et. al. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.

Th, 3/16
Guest Lecture by Marc Schultz (Department of Psychology)
(recommended reading:)

Malcolm Gladwell. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2005. 3-47.

Fri, 3/17: opportunity for third 5-pp. paper, on Uncle Tom's Cabin

T, 3/21-Th, 3/23
The Scarlet Letter continued

T, 3/28
Guest Lecture by Amelie Rorty (Honorary Lecturer on Social Medicine, Harvard University)
(recommended reading:)

Amelie Rorty. "A Literary Postscript: Characters, Persons, Selves, Individuals." The Identities of Persons, ed. Amelie Rorty. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1976. 301-323.

-----. "The Historicity of Psychological Attitudes: Love Is Not Love Which Alters Not When It Alteration Finds." Mind in Action: Essays in the Philosophy of Mind. Boston: Beacon, 1988. 121-134.

-----. "The Political Sources of the Emotions: Greed and Anger." Philosophical Studies 89 (1998): 143-159.

Th, 3/30: Enacting Emotion--Belief and Behavior
Guest Lecture by David Ross (Department of Economics)
(recommended reading:)On Rational Choice and Economic Behavior

Excerpts from Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)

Roger Lowenstein, "Exuberance Is Rational."
The New York Times Magazine (February 11, 2001)

Interview with Barry Schwartz, Paradox of Choice.
MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour (December 26, 2003)

Milton Friedman, "The Methodology of Positive Economics."
Essays in Postive Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1953. 3-9, 14-15, 30-33, 39-43.

F, 3/31: opportunity for fourth 5-pp. paper, on The Scarlet Letter

T, 4/4-Th, 4/13
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

S, 4/29 (for seniors) and S, 5/6 (for everyone else):
opportunity for fifth 5-pp. paper, on Huckleberry Finn

Confinement--Emotion, V2

T, 4/18: Transcending (?) Emotion
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance." 1841; rpt. The Complete Essays
and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
. Ed. Brooks Atkinson.
New York: Modern Library, 1940. 145-152.

Th, 4/20
Margaret Fuller, "The Great Lawsuit: Man versus Men. Woman versus Women."
1843; rpt. The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir. Ed. Alice Rossi.
Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988. 158-182.

From "Explosion of Emotion"

T, 4/25-Th, 4/27
How might you map, together, the emotional landscape of 19th-century American literature? (10-15-minute group presentations, reflecting on some aspect of the course readings, intended to encourage, in a provocative and entertaining way, further story development in others.)

5 p.m.. Saturday, 5/6 (for seniors)
12:30 p.m., Friday, 5/12 (for everyone else):
portfolio, self-evaluation and final (10-pp.) paper due

Expectations and Grades

|Course Syllabus | English Department at Bryn Mawr College |Other Undergraduate Courses on Serendip |Serendip Home |