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The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy

David Bromwich

David Bromwich

American Possibility and American Necessity

A seminar given at the John M. Olin Center the University of Chicago


1.  The Aboriginal Self              Tuesday, November 6


Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Self-Reliance"

Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young, Goodman Brown"

Emily Dickinson (in Complete Poems, ed. Thomas Johnson), "There's a certain slant of light" (#258), "'Tis so appalling' - it exhilarates" (#281), "The Soul selects her own Society" (#303), "The Soul's Superior instants" (#306), "There came a Day at Summer's full" (#322), "It was not Death, for I stood up" (#510), "The Soul has Bandaged moments" (#512), "Of nearness to her sundered Things" (#607), "The tint I cannot take -- is best" (#627), "I cannot live with You" (#640), "A loss of something ever felt I" (#959).

Henry James, "The Jolly Corner"


2.  Is There a Social Self?                  Wednesday, November 7


Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" (in Men Without Women)

Flannery O'Connor, "The Artificial Nigger" (in A Good Man is Hard to Find)

Ralph Ellison, "An Extravagance of Laughter" (in Going to the Territory)


3.  Men and Women at Work            Thursday, November 8

            Screening:  His Girl Friday, director Howard Hawks



Supplementary Reading

For 1 and 2:             

John Jay Chapman, "Emerson"

Hawthorne, "Roger Malvin's Burial"

Hemingway, "The Battler"

O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"


For 3:              

Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness, ch. 5

Maria DiBattista, Fast-Talking Dames, ch. 8


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