Course Description

Insignificance is the locus of true significance.  This should never be forgotten.  That is why it seems so important to me to ask a writer about his writing habits, putting things on the most material level, I would even say the most minimal level possible.  This is an anti-mythological action.  

Roland Barthes

This seminar will offer an overview of the major theories, practices, and technologies of authorship in the United States during the 19th century.  We will examine the shifting practices of authorship at different stages of literary and media history, moving our way through manuscript, magazines, newspapers, practices of reprinting, scrapbooks, stenography, phonography, typewriting, and even the recent emergence of digital tools and archives.  What are the implications of these changes for the status of authorship as a material and professional practice? How have these changes influenced historical theories and paradigms of authorship – from romantic ideas about genius and originality, to realist notions of work and professionalization, to poststructuralist claims about the author’s so-called death?  As we navigate between literature, biography, theory, and secondary sources, we will consider how the nineteenth century anticipates the digital age in its unsettling of traditional notions of authorship, originality, authority, voice, and authenticity.  At the same time, our attention will never stray from the practical matters of craft, technique, method, and style, the marks and markup of the author’s survival.

Required Texts:

  • All pdfs and readings posted to the course website.
  • William Apess, A Son of the Forest and Other Writings (University of Mass. Press), 978-1558491076
  • Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time (Penguin Classics), 978-0140436402
  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers and Other Stories (Oxford World’s Classics), 978-0199639878
  • Jack London, Martin Eden (Penguin American Library), 978-0140187724
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd and Other Stories (Penguin Classics), 978-0140390537
  • Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Oxford), 978-0199540471
  • Roland Barthes, The Preparation of the Novel (Columbia University Press), 978-0231136150

Course Information:

  • Course Number: ENG 770
  • Term: Spring 2015
  • Time: Tuesday and Thursday 2:25 – 3:40 PM
  • Location: Liberal Arts Building 367

Professor Information:

  • Professor Craig Carey
  • Office: LAB 342
  • Office Phone: (601) 266-4072
  • Office Hours: T 11–1pm, Th 3:45-4:45, and by appt.
  • Email:

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