ENGLISH 473 - Topics in American Literature
Winter 2018, Section 001 - American Literature 1865-1965: Civil Disobedience
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


This course reads American literature from (around) 1850 to (around) 1965, focusing on practices of civil disobedience. Our discussions will map multiple trajectories from Thoreau’s influential “Essay on Civil Disobedience” through Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Along the way, we’ll ask questions like the following: How do we make sense of the many paradoxes foundational to civil disobedience – starting with the complexity of the term itself? What role can literariness, reluctance, indirection, and silence play in altering habits of thought and bringing about social change? What is the relationship among passivity, activism, and extremism (including King’s claim that we should be “extremists for love”)? As we read texts by a wide range of authors in a variety of genres, we will consider how paradigms of race and class, gender and sexuality, and national (non-)belonging shape practices of civil (dis)obedience. So too will we discuss the ways in which the texts at hand not only depict or represent such disobedience, but also perform it. How (and what) does literature itself disobey?

Course Requirements:

Course requirements will include several formal papers, ongoing informal writing assignments, and active participation in class discussion.


ENGLISH 473 - Topics in American Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
1/3/18 - 4/17/18

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