The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger

A map of the world with the left half showing a modern digital map of the Americas with points plotted by students and the right side showing an old literary map of the voyage of the Pequod.

Students use the digital mapping tool Locast to plot key points to aid their literary analysis of Moby-Dick. The virtual map is shown here alongside a printed illustration of the Pequod's voyage. (© Google maps data on left and © Harris-Seybold map on right. All rights reserved. This content is excluded from our Creative Commons license. For more information, see


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2013



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Course Features

Course Description

This course covers works by major American novelists, beginning with the late 18th century and concluding with a contemporary novelist. The class places major emphasis on reading novels as literary texts, but attention is paid to historical, intellectual, and political contexts as well. The syllabus varies from term to term, but many of the following writers are represented: Rowson, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Wharton, James, and Toni Morrison. Previously taught topics include The American Revolution and Makeovers (i.e. adaptations and reinterpretation of novels traditionally considered as American "Classics"). May be repeated for credit with instructor's permission so long as the content differs.

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Wyn Kelley. 21L.501 The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger, Spring 2013. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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