[A new semester is upon us, so this week I’ll preview texts I’m excited to teach in my Spring 2022 classes. Leading up to a weekend update on my book project in progress!]
1) “Hungry Husbands” (1857): Fern was first and foremost a groundbreaking newspaper columnist, a writer who wed humor and social commentary in truly innovative ways that make her feel fresh and salient in our own moment as well as opening up a wonderfully alternative window into mid-19th century America. Some of those columns, like “Hungry,” are available online, but it’s by reading a bunch in a collection like Warren’s that we really can appreciate Fern’s voice and style.
2) Blackwell’s Island series (1858): Fern’s journalism went way beyond that particular brand of column, however, as exemplified by her multi-part series on this women’s prison in New York Harbor. Those columns are not available online, and are required reading to give us a genuine sense of the breadth and depth of Fern’s writing and career—so I’m very grateful that Warren collected them in this edition.
3) Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time (1855): Fern’s autobiographical novel complements her journalism in at least two ways: reflecting the darker sides of her experiences, which open up all sorts of 19th century issues around gender, marriage, family, money, and more; and offering a witty and biting alternative to any stereotypes we might have about “sentimental” fiction. Teaching it alongside Fern’s journalism is something I hardly ever get to do, so this Spring’s grad class is the perfect opportunity!
Next preview post tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Spring courses or other work you want to share?