2018 - 2019

  19th C. American Bestsellers  
Rosenberg - Jewish Studies001 Tue1400-1600 Sem  2
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description

American Bestsellers and Popular Culture in the Nineteenth Century 

Maya Merlob 


This course seeks to bring to scholarly attention texts which have, for the most part, been excluded from the literary canon of American culture. While the canon has vastly expanded in recent years to include texts written by the social and racial 'Other', it has remained largely unreceptive to popular literature, operating under the assumption that it lacks literary merit.  

Why is the bestseller considered inferior in terms of its literary and cultural significance? What makes a text successful? What are the criteria for defining success in the world of literature? We will take up these questions as we read texts popularized in nineteenth-century America and explore the ways they appealed to the taste and values of an emerging mass reading public    

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