The American Novel

A colored lithograph of a black girl and white girl, sitting affectionately with one another.

Topsy and Eva, respectively, two characters from Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The quote below the illustration is said by Eva to Topsy, "I love you, because you haven't had any father, or mother, or friends;-because you've been a poor, abused child!" (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-USZC4-2974 [color film copy transparency].)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2006



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Course Description

Course Description

This course explores the metaphorical, historical, social, and psychological value of ghosts in the American novel. Using the theme of "haunting" as a flashpoint for class discussion and a thematic center for our readerly attention, this course examines the American novel in the context of the various histories which might be said to haunt fictional characters in the American novel, to haunt the American novel itself, and ultimately to haunt us: America's colonial past, its slave past, and other memorable and painful chapters in its past.

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Related Content

Sandy Alexandre. 21L.501 The American Novel. Fall 2006. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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