FYS-181 A Whale of a Tale: Moby Dick in American History and Culture

Instructor: Chairperson/Professor Timothy J. Shannon
Department: History

Course Description:
Everyone knows the story of Moby Dick, but far fewer people have actually read it. Does this book deserve its reputation as the great American novel? What does this story about a nineteenth-century whaling voyage possibly have to say that can still be relevant to twenty-first century readers? In this seminar, we will read and discuss Moby Dick in its entirety, and by exploring other materials and sources, learn about the historical events that inspired it, about the life of its enigmatic author Herman Melville, and about the global industry of whaling that provided its setting. Together and independently, we will try to determine what is quintessentially American about Moby Dick.