Short Course Description
The novel of manners, a genre that specializes in close, pseudo-anthropological descriptions of a complex and socially stratified cultural world, came late to the United States. Developed in nineteenth-century Europe, the form made it to America's shores only after the Civil War. What took it so long? Why did American variants of the genre, made famous by Jane Austen and George Eliot, Balzac and Flaubert, only appear in the latter part of the century? How were the Americanized versions of the novel of the manners different from their European models? Our course will explore these and similar questions. Through close readings in the works of America's seminal novelists of manners, W. D. Howells, Henry James, and Edith Wharton, we will investigate this key genre and the social-historical contexts in which it flourished.
Full syllabus is to be published