Herman Melville is best known for seafaring tales like Moby Dick and Billy Bud. But arguably his most influential publication was "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street," the story of a copy-clerk who is hired by a Wall-Street lawyer and then refuses to do his job. The tale of Bartleby's resistance
is the original Wall Street protest, written in the midst of the first high finance boom in New York City. In this immersive Day-of Learning, students will read Melville's novella alongside several other Melville stories (including brief excerpts from Moby Dick), correspondence, and prose non-fiction as well as short works by his contemporaries. We will study these works in the context of Melville's world, reading and discussing archival materials that paint a picture of the Wall Street of 19th Century New York City—not so different from ours, in many ways—growing in power and influence on the cusp of the first Gilded Age.
The day of reading and discussion will proceed as follows: over the course of the day, Dr. Maeve Adams of Manhattan College—a literary historian of nineteenth century media and culture—will deliver two lectures on Melville’s world, his work and his lasting influence on the republic of letters that he is, in no small part, responsible for founding. This will inaugurate and frame the work that students do in two types of break-out sessions that take place throughout the day: students will be given time to read course materials and then will participate in guided discussions of those works. The day will conclude with a roundtable discussion by experts in the fields of literature, history, and economics. Coffee, lunch, and snacks will be provided throughout the day, and the final roundtable will be followed by a beer-and-wine reception.
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