Wieland; or The Transformation (1798) is one of the earliest American novels, and a thrilling gothic romance. Written during the period when the United States was "invented" as a young democratic nation, Brown's novel reflects the strengths and weaknesses of living in a republic whose citizens have freed themselves from the embrace of paternalism and authoritarian rule. It features a strong and sympathetic female protagonist maneuvering her way through the labyrinth of a socially and psychologically instable society, including an evil gambler apparently intent on testing the mental and emotional resilience of a group of friends. We will read the novel both for its literary qualities and as an intellectual experiment that is surprisingly responsive to our current concerns about democracy, social companionship, (ir)rationality, and the effects of the intentional spread of lies and falsehood.
Students are required to purchase a Reader (Copy&Paste), as well as the following text:
Charles Brockden Brown (1798/2009) Wieland. Ed. Emory Elliot. Oxford UP. ISBN: 0199538778.