Literary Capital of the West: Chicago Writing before 1890 (In Person)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 - Wednesday, July 19, 2023

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Six Sessions


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Course Description

This course explores the evolving relationship between Western and urban identities in Chicago writing from the 1840s through the 1880s. Histories of Chicago literature often start around 1890, with the urban sketches of writers like Finley Peter Dunne. Chicago’s antebellum literature, however, was very different, aimed at rural readers in the city’s railroad empire. After the Civil War, this agrarian focus persisted even as interest in writing about the city itself started to grow. As we survey these changes we will view many publications in the Newberry’s collections, including the city’s earliest literary paper, the Gem of the Prairie; the poetry in the Haymarket anarchists’ Alarm; Juliette Kinzie’s early settler memoir Wau Bun; and Barriers Burned Away, E.P. Roe’s overnight bestseller about the Great Chicago Fire.
Six Sessions: $247/$220.5. Led by Jesse Raber

Registration Fees

Registration is $247

We offer a 10% discount to seniors, students, and members of the Newberry (Associates at the Author level and above).

Contact Us

The Adult Education team is available Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Email is the best form of contact: You can also reach us by phone at 312-255-3700. Please allow 24-48 business hours for a response.


Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610
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