For the Fall 2021 term, we're offering a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. Registration opens on September 1st at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.
Recently, the language of illicit conspiracy has returned to mainstream political debates in the United States, from the unexpected popularity of QAnon and its claims of a “deep state” cabal to the notion that “global elites” regularly foment racial discord for their own pecuniary gains. Though seemingly a digital age phenomenon, the origins of these themes date back to at least the nineteenth-century in the United States, when progressive social movements, populist political movements, and ongoing challenges to the institution of slavery threatened to upend “politics as usually.” In this seminar, we will approach the idea of “conspiracy” through the lens of literature, as we investigate why the fears of antebellum Americans coalesced into clandestine plots and secret societies. In addition to authors like Herman Melville, Charles Brockden Brown, and George Lippard, we will read criticism by Jean-Paul Sartre, Slavoj Žižek, and Sylvia Wynter, as well as some primary materials from contemporary commenters.
Six sessions. Registration – $185
Tony Papanikolas studied nineteenth- and early twentieth-century U.S. literature at Northwestern University, where he focused on African American literature and rhetoric and completed a PhD dissertation titled Sounds Political: Listening to African American Literature, 1845-1903
Digital Course Packet
George Lippard, The Quaker City: The Monks of Monk Hall, a Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (Classic Reprint). Forgotten Books, 2010.
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; or, the Transformation and Carwin the Biloquist. Oxford World Classics, 2009.