Moby-Dick (1851) has been called the greatest American novel, yet in the nineteenth century, it was a critical and commercial flop. Just over a century later, Ralph Waldo Ellison published Invisible Man and it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. In considering the opposite trajectories of these two ambitious novels as we read them closely over the course of the semester, we also will consider the relationship between politics and art, and race and representation, in the mid-nineteenth and –twentieth centuries, the ongoing evolution of the American literary canon, and continuing debates about “great” literature. Additional writings by Melville and Ellison as well as literary criticism and theory will contextualize our focus on the two substantial novels.
This course is cross-listed as ENG 382 and ENG 371. As 371, it will satisfy the RES or DT requirement. MW 2:40-4:10