ENGL 396.

03
American Prose, 1865-1914: looking in/at the 19th Century
Instructor: Jeff Allred
Class Meetings: TF 2:10-3:25, HW 407
Office Hours: F 12-2pm and by appointment in HW 1208
Contact me: 212.772.5170 or jeff.allred@hunter.cuny.edu
Course Blog: http://jallred.net/wordpress/eng396
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the semester, students will gain:
 broad knowledge of US prose in the time period, including central writers, styles, and topics.
 more specialized knowledge about the visual culture of the period, including both the objects that
loomed largest in the period and the more subjective “ways of looking” embedded in the cultural
technologies of the era.
 writing skills and especially close reading/analytic skills in careful engagement with literary prose.
 experience engaging an audience of peers as well as a broader public orally and in writing, using
two platforms that are widely used both in the academy and beyond: the WordPress blogging
platform and the Omeka digital exhibition platform.
Course Schedule (**besides the books listed at the end, all readings are available via the web: I’ll
explain in class how to access them)
date
8/29

9/16
9/19

readings
Introduction, requirements, assignments
Portrait of a Lady (1881): gender and the “realist gaze”
James, Portrait, introduction, chs. 1-11
James, chs. 12-22
** meet in the library 6th floor at E609 for primer on WordPress etc.
James, chs. 23-28
James, chs. 29-40
** meet in the library 6th floor at E609 for primer on Omeka etc.
James, chs. 41-50
MISSED CLASS: NOTE NEW DATES BELOW

9/23

James, finish

9/2
9/5
9/9
9/12

Work due

Blog post #1

Blog post #2
Submission of one
item to Omeka
exhibit on James
due

How the Other Half Lives (1890): photography, class, social control
9/30

Riis, How the Other Half Lives, intro + chs. 1-10

10/7

Riis, chs. 11-19

10/10

Riis, finish

10/14
10/17

Maggie (1893): things and the “material unconscious”
Crane, chs. 1-6
Crane, chs. 7-12

Blog post #3

G1: project due
Blog post #4

10/21
10/24

Crane, finish
Sister Carrie (1900): looking and commodity culture
Dreiser, chs. 1-10

10/28

Dreiser, chs. 11-20

10/31

Dreiser, chs. 21-30

11/4
11/7

Dreiser, chs. 31-40
Dreiser, finish
The Souls of Black Folk (YEAR): looking and “double consciousness”
DuBois, “the forethought” + chs. 1-4

11/11
11/14
11/18
11/21

DuBois, chs. 5-8
“elevator pitch” for final project in class (1 min max)
DuBois, chs. 9-12

11/25
12/2
12/5

DuBois, finish
Shawn Smith. “‘Looking at One’s Self through the Eyes of Others’: W.E.B. Du
Bois’s Photographs for the 1900 Paris Exposition.” African American Review
34.4 (2000): 581–599. JSTOR.
The House of Mirth (Year): looking, gender, and value/evaluation
Wharton, Book 1, chs. 1-3
Wharton, Book 1, chs. 4-12
Wharton, finish Book 1 + Book 2 chs. 1-4

12/9
12/12

Wharton, finish (do your best!)
Wharton, review

G2: project due

Blog post #5
G3: project due
Prospectus for
final project due
(on blog)
Blog post #6 due
Biblio for final
project due
G4: project due

Draft of final
project due
Final project due

Responsibilities:
Six blog posts of 400-800 words + informal commenting on others’ posts
Group project: creation of original exhibit on Omeka (details TBA)
Final project/paper: another Omeka exhibit (solo or with partner/group) or traditional research paper of
10-12 pp.
regular attendance and participation in all discussions
Grading:
I will give detailed guidelines for the blog posts, exam, and encyclopedia entries separately. Your grade will
be calculated as follows: blogging (35%); group project (20%); final project (35%); participation (10%).
A FEW GENERAL POLICIES:
a) regarding plagiarism
Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g. plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining
unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values
of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and
will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Integrity Procedures.

b) regarding students with disabilities
In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all
students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with
documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical and/or Learning) consult the Office of Accessibility
located in Room 1124 East to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and
assistance please call (212-772-4857) /TTY (212-650-3230).
c) regarding attendance and participation
I do take attendance and expect you in class each day. Failure to attend will significantly impact your
grade; more than four unexcused absences will result in a failing grade. I’m a reasonable person, so always
get in touch via email in advance if you need to miss class. I become less reasonable with excuses that come
after the fact. Nor is being there enough: you have to come prepared to put away the phones and
distractions and engage the texts rigorously. I will embarrass you if you are texting or otherwise engaging
in distracted/distracting behavior.
d) regarding technology
We will use web resources in this course: a course blog and perhaps the course Blackboard site. I plan to
use Bb only for its gradebook function, if that; we will use the blog to share informal responses to texts and
for any announcements from me about the course. We will also use email for communication. It is
therefore a basic requirement for you to have a functioning email account and to check it frequently. I
prefer that you use your Hunter email address for all course-related correspondence: getting email from
your personal accounts, with handles like numbnutz34 or darealcontenda (both real examples), creates
spam filter problems and is just plain embarrassing. But if you trust a personal address more than your
Hunter account, I can arrange to use that instead.
Books:[available at Shakes and Co. (939 Lexington Avenue); all other texts are available via blog site]
Henry James, PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Series: Penguin Classics
ISBN-10: 0141441267
Jacob Riis, HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition
(November 1, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0140436790

W. E. B. DuBois, SOULS OF BLACK FOLK
Series: Penguin Classics
ISBN-10: 014018998X
Edith Wharton, HOUSE OF MIRTH
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May
1, 1993)
ISBN-10: 0140187294

Stephen Crane, MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS
Series: Penguin Classics
Theodore Dreiser, SISTER CARRIE
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition
ISBN-10: 0140437975
ISBN-10: 0140188282
** you are welcome to shop around, but make sure to get the edition with the corresponding ISBN.