HON 399 - Interdisciplinary Seminar - Tricksters and Troublemakers in Early America

Christine Sears and Joe Conway

Students will study the many lives of the early American con artist, a national anti-hero who put on many faces, including trickster, pirate, counterfeiter, cross dresser, seducer, petty criminal, and slave. We will examine how this character symbolically represents economic and cultural transformation taking place between the Revolution and the Civil War. As the con artist is a "shifty" character who can never be easily classified, he has much to tell us about the shifting categories of class, race, gender, and national identity that were in the process of forming in the early U.S.