Life Writing and Nineteenth-Century America

History 280D

Fall 2012
Day & Time: 
W 2-4P

Although historians of the modern West often study large subjects such as ecosystems, economies, societies, institutions, public spheres, and aggregated experiences, the individual life remains a compelling and recalcitrant object of curiosity and research. The lives we study have been constructed in complex and varying ways, both within particular cultures and within particular kinds of historical documents. This reading seminar introduces the social and cultural history of the United States in the long nineteenth century by exploring some of the voluminous recent scholarship that deals with or relies upon biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, fictional life narratives, diaries, and personal correspondence. The course is designed for various kinds of graduate students: those who intend to prepare examination fields that cover nineteenth-century U.S. history, those who hope to work with life-writing sources, or those who are interested in the methodological and theoretical questions those sources raise.

Course Books

The Shoemaker and the Tea Party by Young, Arthur Beacon Press. ISBN: 978-0807054055 Required
The Pale King by Wallace, David Foster Little, Brown. ISBN: 978-0316074230 Required
Indian Nation by Walker, Cheryl Duke. ISBN: 978-0822319443 Required
Midwife’s Tale by Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher Vintage. ISBN: 978-0679733768 Required
Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers by Srebnick, Amy Gilman Oxford. ISBN: 978-0195113921 Required
Born Losers by Sandage, Scott Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674021075 Required
What this Cruel War Was Over by Manning, Chandra Vintage. ISBN: 978-0307277329 Required
History of My Own Times by Otter, William Cornell. ISBN: 978-0801499616 Required
The Land Before Her by Kolodny, Annette North Carolina. ISBN: 978-0807841112 Required
William Johnson’s Natchez by Johnson, William LSU. ISBN: 978-0807118559 Required
Trials of Intimacy by Fox, Richard Wightman Chicago. ISBN: 978-0226259383 Required
Ruth Hall and other Writings by Fern, Fanny Rutgers. ISBN: 978-0813511689 Required
Plotting the Golden West by Fender, Stephen Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521135719 Required
Unvarnished Truth by Fabian, Ann California. ISBN: 978-0520232013 Required
The Slave’s Narrative by Davis, Charles and Gates Jr, Henry Louis Oxford. ISBN: 978-0195066562 Required
Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace by Cohen, Daniel Massachusetts. ISBN: 978-1558495296 Required
Constructing American Lives by Casper, Scott North Carolina. ISBN: 978-0807847657 Required
The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave by Bibb, Henry Wisconsin. ISBN: 978-0299168940 Required
Clerk’s Tale by Augst, Thomas Chicago. ISBN: 978-0226032207 Required
Inheriting the Revolution by Appleby, Joyce Belknap. ISBN: 978-0674002364 Required