19 Century American Literature: American Novel to 1900 (Online)

ENGLSH 4310/7310
Section 01
John Evelev
Online Asynchronous
Course Description

Struggling first with the Puritans’ distrust of fiction and later to overcome the cultural domination of Britain, the novel quickly became the dominant expression of American literature in the nineteenth century.  This course traces the major shifts of genre and form within the American novel from its beginnings in epistolary novels of manners and seduction in the late eighteenth century to the naturalistic depiction of urban poverty and vice in 1900.  While noting the important formal transformations within the American novel, we will also explore some of its persistent social and political concerns, including women’s “private” experience as privileged topic (contrasted with women’s underprivileged role in American public life), the creation of a distinctly American past (which may be based upon and unsettled by injustices), and the threat of racial and class violence.


Hannah Foster, The Coquette (1797)

Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Hope Leslie (1827)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables (1851)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851)

Herman Melville, Benito Cereno (1855)

Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition (1901)

Crane, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1893/1896)