The course is a close study of two major American authors of the mid 19th century, with an
eye to their differing techniques in dealing with similar themes; in particular, the power of
passion of human behavior and a generally tragic sense of life. Since at least for a time these
two authors were in close personal contact with each other and were inspired by each other’s
works, the course would use biographical information, as well as critical theory, to help illuminate the works in question. Class time would combine brief lectures with vigorous class
discussion, with an emphasis on close readings of major texts.