Academic Programs 

Traditions of Change: American Literature of Reform    (HI-676)
January Interession and Winter/Spring 2009

“In the history of the world, Reform never had such scope as at the present hour.” This course explores the social, religious and cultural contexts in which Ralph Waldo Emerson makes this statement in “Man the Reformer” (1841). We will examine the literature that ignited and spurred on the most significant and historic reform efforts in 19th-century America: abolition of slavery, temperance, household reform, suffrage and criminal justice, including prison reform and capital punishment debates. Given the religious dimensions of these reform movements, including the relationship between rhetorical strategies and theological beliefs, we will explore how sermons, essays, autobiographies, and fictional narratives shaped these reform movements. Writers studied may include Benjamin Rush on the penitentiary, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the role of women in public life, Nathaniel Hawthorne on communal living, Frederick Douglass on abolition and African-American civil rights, and T.S. Arthur on temperance.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, Jan. 12 through Friday, Jan. 16
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Make-up day: Jan. 17)

Erin Forbes

Adjunct Instructor of History and Ph.D. candidate in English and Religion at Princeton University

Contact Information:



Course Syllabus

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