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The American Romantics
Taylor Hagood
 Lifelong Learning Professorship of Arts and Letter, 2014-2015

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: They are some of the most famous names in all of American literature—Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Cooper, Whitman, and the writer of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, Washington Irving. Together, they put the United States on the world map of literature, telling their stories of adventure in the mountains of New York, of the tragic and gallant whaling voyages embarking from New England ports, and of the haunting quaint mysteries of a mossed-over (and often purely fabricated) American past. These writers were finding in the American landscape, the beautiful and sublime that they read in the work of German and British Romantics, establishing their own brand of American Romanticism. Understanding this American Romantic movement is crucial not only to grasping American literary history but also our present political, cultural, and literary movements since these writers’ works established many of the fundamental modes of thinking that have shaped history, which has in turn shaped our own moment. This series of eight lectures will explore the development of that American Romanticism from James Fenimore Cooper, who hewed closely to European forms, to Walt Whitman, whose poetry brought American themes gushing unabashedly onto the world literary stage. 

1. James Fenimore Cooper: Europeans adored Cooper’s tales of Natty Bumppo, the original mountain man.
2. Washington Irving: The headless horseman has long been an iconic figure in America, and Irving created him. Or did he?
3. Edgar Allan Poe: From The Raven to The Tell-Tale Heart, Poe stands in a category of the macabre all his own.
4. Ralph Waldo Emerson: One of the chief formulators of the American notion of rugged individualism, Emerson’s ideas continue to be powerful, even in political debates of our own moment.
5. Henry David Thoreau: Thoreau’s concept of civil disobedience has been adopted by political thinkers of the left and the right and continues to characterize political discussion.
6. Herman Melville: The magisterial story of the white whale, Moby Dick is filled with deep philosophical concepts that have defined the United States.
7. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The quiet-voiced writer of New England’s thunderous past remains relevant in our moment.
8. Walt Whitman: One of the greatest American poets ever, Whitman revolutionized what poetry could be, and linked it to a romantic but doomed hope for antebellum America that speaks also to our present moment.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Dr. Taylor Hagood is professor of American literature at Florida Atlantic University. His publications include Faulkner; Writer of Disability (winner of the 2014 C. Hugh Holman Award for Best Book in Southern Studies); Following Faulkner: The Critical Response to Yoknapatawpha's Architect; Faulkner's Imperialism: Space, Place, and the Materiality of Myth; and Secrecy, Magic, and the One-Act Plays of Harlem Renaissance Women Writers. He edited Critical Insights: The Sound and the Fury and co-edited the groundbreaking Undead Souths: The Gothic and Beyond in Southern Literature and Culture. In addition, he has published articles and lectured in venues throughout North America and Europe and was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Munich (2009-2010).

Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Date: Fridays, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2
Location: Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium, Boca Raton Campus
Fees: Member - $100
Non-member - $130
Cash will no longer be accepted as payment for lectures.

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