Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Typically offered:

Every other year

This class focuses on American fiction from the realist/naturalist period (roughly 1860-1920), a time when enormous changes were occurring in and on the American landscape.

Increasing urbanization, immigration, and industrialization corresponded both with a desire for ‘realistic’ fiction of social problems, and nostalgic stories of a more ‘realistic’ rural life. For the first time there was a national literature, resulting from the capabilities of large publishing houses, urban centers and mass production - but this national literature was acutely self-conscious of regional differences, and especially of the tension between city and country. As writers tried to paint the American landscape in literature, their works subsumed major social issues to place and formal arguments about the true nature of realistic description.

Examining works that portray factory towns, urban tenements, midwestern prairies, New England villages, and the broad spectrum of American landscapes, we look at how a complex, turbulent, multi-ethnic, and simultaneously urban and rural American culture defined itself, its realism, and thus its gender, class, race, and social relations and sense of values, against these landscapes.

There are two extra, evening classes during week seven (Short Fiction Week), and a modest lab fee. Evaluation is based on weekly response papers, two short papers, and a short fiction project, as well as class participation.


Writing Seminar I (or the equivalent).

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.