Dark Necessity: The (Short) Fiction of Hawthorne, Poe, & Melville


Course Description

Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe, though classic American writers, eschewed the commonplace 19th-century American belief in pragmatism, utilitarianism, and more generally, the optimism of the era in which they lived. While many touted the perfectibility of humanity and of the country, emphasizing the freedom of the individual and our better natures, these writers frequently portray what Melville called “the power of blackness,” a “dark necessity” that impels humankind toward depravity and evil.

What do their writings reveal about the worst in humankind—dramatized so powerfully in the characters and narrative ruminations in many of their works? What sort of resonance do their fictions have in our age, when every day it seems, we learn of indiscriminate violence and evil somewhere in the world? Does their literary art enable us to better conceive depravity and more generally, human nature, as a result of reading them? Does their work offer reason—however tenuous—to remain optimistic?

Please note, that all courses have a maximum enrollment of 18 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Details

First Session: Wednesday, September 18th 2019

Course Length: 12 weeks, Wednesdays, 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Discussion Team: Michael Tritt, Anne Fitzpatrick and Penny Soper

Course Fees: 

$150.00 (tuition fee)

$100.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$185.00 (tuition fee)

$135.00 (promotion for new students)


Please note, degree students must schedule an appointment with the Admissions and Accreditation Committee to register for courses for this term. Degree students should not register online.

The course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session.

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If you are NEW at TMI