LEWISTON – Nathaniel Hawthorne famously called popular women authors in the 1800s “a mob of scribbling women.” What did he mean? Was he right? How should we assess the most popular fiction of the 19th century today?

How did this work intervene in struggles over slavery, women’s rights and other social issues of the day? How much can popular fiction affect the culture at large? Why was this tradition only rediscovered in the last generation?

These are questions to be addressed in a new course at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College called “Women’s Sentimental Fiction of the 19th Century.” The course will survey some of the most popular literature in the 1800s written by women of Anglo and African American descent.

Like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the novels and stories often centered around domestic life but also contained strong political themes about slavery, racial identity, class difference and women’s rights.

Students will explore the significance of the fact that though Stowe is the most recognizable name today, many of these works were some of the bestselling fiction of their time.

The three-credit course (HUM 399), is open to all interested students and will meet from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, beginning Sept. 12. The instructor will be Eve Raimon, PhD, associate professor of arts and humanities.

Registration for this and other fall semester courses is open through the first week of classes. The complete fall semester course listing is available online at www.usm.maine.edu/lac/schedules. Call 753-6500 for more information or advising assistance. Dr. Raimon may be reached at [email protected]

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