Melville and American Exceptionalism | Newberry

Melville and American Exceptionalism

Thursday, March 7, 2019

9:30 am to 12:30 pm

The Newberry

Will Hansen, The Newberry
Programs for Teachers
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

Herman Melville acted as both champion and critic of the rapidly changing, expanding United States of the nineteenth century. His experiences in the South Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe, combined with his notable ancestry as grandson to two major figures of the American Revolution, helped to form Melville’s ambivalent voice regarding his country’s regard for itself as unique among the nations of the world in its freedoms, principles, and “manifest destiny.” What can his views on imperialism, slavery, Indigenous peoples, religion, and the development of a national literature teach us (and help us teach) about the American experiment? This seminar will explore this question with excerpts from works such as Typee, Mardi, Moby Dick, The Confidence Man, “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” and “Benito Cereno,” as well as Melville’s underappreciated poetry on the Civil War and other topics. The seminar will include a guided tour of the exhibition, “Melville: Finding America at Sea.”

Cost and Registration Information 

Newberry Teachers’ Consortium members may register for this seminar through their designated membership contact as space permits. Non-member educators may register for this seminar by purchasing an individual membership at the time of registration. Registration for all NTC seminars opens Friday, September 7, 2018. For more information about NTC membership, please contact Charlotte Ross, Teacher Programs Manager, at

The seminar will be followed by a catered lunch. Registrants should RSVP for lunch to assist Teacher Programs staff in reducing waste.

A link to the assigned pre-readings for this seminar will be distributed to participants via email.

If you believe you are registered for this seminar but have not received an email confirmation or reminder, please contact Teacher Programs staff.