American Literature and American Painting, 1840 to 1940

Seminar Leader:
Peter Conn


A seminar led by Peter Conn, Vartan Gregorian Professor of English

The seminar will offer a selective but intensive introduction to American literature and American painting in the century between the antebellum years and World War II. The authors to be studied will include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Edith Wharton, T.S. Eliot, Henry James, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ernest Hemingway, the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and William Faulkner, among others.

The painters will include Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, the “Ash Can School” of the early 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe, the artists of the Harlem Renaissance, the Regionalists of the 1930s, and Edward Hopper. We will try to arrange at least one visit to either the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, both of which house some of the finest collections of American painting in the country.

Seminar Fellows will be able to create curriculum units that focus either on literature or painting or comparisons between them.

Unit TitleAuthor


“A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words”: Telling Stories Through Paint, Photography and Poetry Using Technology

Dale Apple
Keywords: Harlem Renaissance, poetry, Technology

Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid Growing Up in America Through Art and Literature

Joyce Arnosky
Keywords: American History, childhood

The Science Behind Art and Literature: How We Process What We See and Hear

Amanda Bridgeford
Keywords: Physical Science, physics, poetry


Michael Steele-Eytle
Keywords: contemporary American workd, Spanish

Interdisciplinary Harlem Renaissance: The Visual Artists

Aimee Christopher
Keywords: Art, Black America, Harlem Renaissance

When Looking at Me, What Do You See? Interacting with Murals

Kelly L. Graham
Keywords: Art, asian art and culture, murals, Science, Visual Art

Propaganda, Its History and Techniques, and Its Use by Proslavery and Abolitionist Movements

Lisa Kelly
Keywords: abolitionists, History, proslavery, Slavery

Settling of the West: Expansion, Emigration, and Extermination

Nancy B. Matlack
Keywords: American History, emmigration, History, indian massacre, Native American History

Images of American Wars and Warriors: Trial and Triumph

Sandy O’Keefe
Keywords: American History, Civil War, revolutionary war, vietnam war, WW1

Fitzgerald & Hopper: Windows on the 1920s

Kate Reber
Keywords: African American History, American History, great gatsby

Romare Bearden: Commemorating the Centennial Birthday of the Man of Many Parts

Rita Sorrentino
Keywords: elementary poetry, poetry, Romare Bearden

Literature and Visual Art of the Urban Experience

Zachary F. Wright
Keywords: 19th century, 20th century writers, Emerson, Thomas COle, Thoreau