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Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events
Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Events


Writing the Boomtown: Chicago Literature from the Civil War to Haymarket

Wednesdays, from July 10 through August 7
6:30-8 p.m.

StoryStudio Chicago
4043 N. Ravenswood #222
Chicago, IL 60613

Enroll to attend a seminar with Chicago literary expert Jesse Raber. Over the course of five Wednesday evenings at StoryStudio Chicago, Raber will explore with students the important authors and books produced during Chicago’s early history. Tuition for the seminar is $310; registration will be limited to 12. 

By the end of the Civil War, Chicago was transforming from a commercial crossroads to an industrial center,the fortunes of its business leaders rising alongside the numbers of immigrants, unskilled workers, and paupers. The city's writers wondered how high it could rise (could it ever become a cultural
capital equal to New York or Boston?), and also how far it might fall if crime or labor agitation got out of hand. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Great Strike of 1877 crystallized these issues, seeming to underline the need for more elite control of the masses, while the Haymarket Affair forced a radical reconsideration of that conclusion. In this course we will study the literature surrounding these events, from Mary Healy Bigot's polite novel of manners Lakeville through the Chicago Fire bestseller Barriers Burned Away, the crime writing of Allan Pinkerton, and poems from the Haymarket anarchists' newspapers, The Alarm and Die Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung (in translation), among other works.

Jesse Raber is Head Instructor in the Poetry in America program at the Harvard Extension School. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Harvard, and has taught literature and writing classes at UIC, Loyola, and SAIC. He is the co-creator of the Chicago Writing Gallery at the American Writers Museum, and the author of Progressivism's Aesthetic Education: The Bildungsroman and the Struggle for the American School, 1890-1920. His current research project is a literary history of Chicago.

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