Nineteenth-Century American Literature: Brief Selected Bibliography
Note: In addition to this very brief list of general works, please consult the bibliographies for individual movements and authors.
Ammons, Elizabeth, and Annette White-Parks, eds. Tricksterism in Turn-of-the-Century American Literature. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994.
Ammons, Elizabeth. Conflicting Stories: American Women Writers at the Turn into the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford Press, 1991
Andrews, William L, ed. African American Autobiography: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1993.
Andrews, William L. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.
Barbour, James, and Tom Quirk, eds. Writing the American Classics. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Barbour, James, and Tom Quirk. Biographies of Books: The Compositional Histories of Notable American Writings. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995.
Bardes, Barbara, and Suzanne Gosset. Declarations of Independence: Women and Political Power in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990.
Bauer, Dale M. Feminist Dialogics: A Theory of Failed Community. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.
Baym, Nina. American Women Writers and the Work of History, 1790-1860. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
Baym, Nina. Feminism and American Literary History: Essays. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992.
Baym, Nina. Novels, Readers, and Reviewers: Responses to Fiction in Antebellum America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.
Baym, Nina. Woman's Fiction: A Guide to Novels By and About Women in America, 1820-1870. 2nd ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
Bell, Michael Davitt. The Problem of American Realism: Studies in the Cultural History of a Literary Idea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Bender, Bert. The Descent of Love: Darwin and the Theory of Sexual Selection in American Fiction, 1871-1926. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, and Myra Jehlen, eds. Ideology and Classic American Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. Reconstructing American Literary History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.
Berthoff, Warner. The Ferment of Realism: American Literature 1884-1919. New York: Free Press, 1965.
Blair, Walter, and Hamlin Hill. America's Humor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
Blair, Walter. Essays on American Humor: Blair Through the Ages. Ed. Hamlin Hill. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.
Brodhead, Richard. Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in 19th Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Budick, Emily Miller. Engendering Romance: Woman Writers and the Hawthorne Tradition, 1850-1990. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.
Buell, Lawrence. Literary Transcendentalism: Style and Vision in the American Renaissance. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986.
Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing and the Formations of American Culture. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1995.
Carafiol, Peter. The American Ideal: Literary History as a Worldly Activity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Chase, Richard. The American Novel and Its Tradition. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957.
Covici, Pascal, Jr. Humor and Revelation in American Literature: The Puritan Connection. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997.
Dauber, Kenneth. The Idea of Authorship in America: Democratic Poets from Franklin to Melville. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.
Davidson, Cathy N. Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Davis, Charles T., and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Slave's Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Davis, Charles T., and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Slave's Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Dekker, George. The American Historical Romance. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Dickie, Margaret, and Thomas Travisano, eds. Gendered Modernisms: American Women Poets and Their Readers. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.
Elliot, Emory. Revolutionary Writers: Literature and Authority in the New Republic 1725-1810. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Elliot, Emory., and Cathy N. Davidson, eds. The Columbia History of the American Novel. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
Elliot, Emory., and others, eds. The Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.
Erkkila, Betsy. The Wicked Sisters: Women Poets, Literary History, and Discord. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Feidelson, Charles. Symbolism and American Literature.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.
Fetterley, Judith. The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.
Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. New York: Criterion, 1960.
Fisher, Philip. Hard Facts: Setting and Form in the American Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Foster, Frances Smith. The Development of Ante-bellum Slave Narratives. 2nd. ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.
Foster, Frances Smith. Written by Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Fryer, Judith. The Faces of Eve: Women in the Nineteenth-Century American Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Gilmore, Michael T. American Romanticism and the Marketplace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
Gunning, Sandra. Race, Rape, and Lynching: The Red Record of American Literature, 1890-1912. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Habegger, Alfred. Gender, Fantasy, and Realism in American Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.
Harris, Susan K. Nineteenth-Century American Women's Novels: Interpretive Strategies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Hoffman, Daniel. Form and Fable in American Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961.
Johanningsmeier, Charles. Fiction and the American Literary Marketplace: The Role of Newspaper Syndicates, 1860-1900. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Leverenz, David. Manhood and the American Renaissance. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.
Lewis, R. W. B. The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1955.
Loving, Jerome. Lost in the Customhouse: Authorship in the American Renaissance. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993.
Martin, Jay. Harvests of Change: American Literature:, 1865-1914. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.
Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.
Mason, Jeffrey D. Melodrama and the Myth of America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
Matthiessen, F.O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.
McDowell, Deborah E., and Arnold Rampersad, eds. Slavery and the Literary Imagination. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.
Michaels, Walter Benn, and Donald Pease, eds. The American Renaissance Reconsidered. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.
Minter, David. A Cultural History of the American Novel: Henry James to William Faulkner. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Mott, Frank Luther. Golden Multitudes: The Story of Best Sellers in the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1947.
Murphy, Brenda. American Realism and American Drama, 1880-1940. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Myerson, Joel, ed. The Transcendentalists: A Review of Research and Criticism. New York: Modern Language Association, 1984.
Nilson, Don L.F. Humor in American Literature: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1992. Rees, Robert, and Earl N. Harbert, eds. Fifteen American Authors Before 1900: Bibliographical Essays on Research and Criticism.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. Rock, Roger. The Native American in American Literature: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985.
Parini, Jay, ed. The Columbia History of American Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
Pattee, Fred Lewis. The Development of the American Short Story.  New York: Harper, 1923.
Pease, Donald E. Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.
Pizer, Donald. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Rev. ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.
Reynolds, David S. Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
Rose, Anne C. Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, 1830-1850. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.
Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown, and Jerry W. Ward, Jr., eds. Redefining American Literary History. New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.
Sekora, John, and Darwin T. Turner, eds. The Art of Slave Narrative: Original Essays in Criticism and Theory. Macomb: Western Illinois University Press, 1982.
Slocum, Robert B. New England in Fiction, 1787-1990: An Annotated Bibliography. West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press, 1994.
Slotkin, Richard. Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973.
Smith, Stephanie A. Conceived by Liberty: Maternal Figures and Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian American. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. Stepto, Robert. From Behind The Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979.
Sundquist, Eric. To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1993.
Tate, Claudia. Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine's Text at the turn of the Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Thomas, Brook. American Literary Realism and the Failed Promise of Contact. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Tompkins, Jane P. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Trachtenberg, Alan. The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.
Walker, Cheryl. The Nightingale's Burden: Women Poets and American Culture Before 1900. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.
Warren, Joyce W., ed. The (Other) American Tradition: Nineteenth-Century Women Writers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993.
Warren, Kenneth W. Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Westling, Louise. The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender and American Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.
Wilson, Edmund. Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War.  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1984.
Ziff, Larzer Writing in the New Nation: Prose, Print, and Politics in the Early United States. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.
Ziff, Larzer. Literary Democracy: The Declaration of Cultural Independence in America. New York: Viking Press, 1981.
Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge
Useful as it is to trace the common elements in Romantic poetry, there was little conformity among the poets themselves. It is misleading to read the poetry of the first Romantics as if it had been written primarily to express their feelings. Their concern was rather to change the intellectual climate of the age. William Blake had been dissatisfied since boyhood with the current state of poetry and what he considered the irreligious drabness of contemporary thought. His early development of a protective shield of mocking humour with which to face a world in which science had become trifling and art inconsequential is visible in the satirical An Island in the Moon (written c. 1784–85); he then took the bolder step of setting aside sophistication in the visionary Songs of Innocence (1789). His desire for renewal encouraged him to view the outbreak of the French Revolution as a momentous event. In works such as The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790–93) and Songs of Experience (1794), he attacked the hypocrisies of the age and the impersonal cruelties resulting from the dominance of analytic reason in contemporary thought. As it became clear that the ideals of the Revolution were not likely to be realized in his time, he renewed his efforts to revise his contemporaries’ view of the universe and to construct a new mythology centred not in the God of the Bible but in Urizen, a repressive figure of reason and law whom he believed to be the deity actually worshipped by his contemporaries. The story of Urizen’s rise was set out in The First Book of Urizen (1794) and then, more ambitiously, in the unfinished manuscript Vala (later redrafted as The Four Zoas), written from about 1796 to about 1807.
Blake developed these ideas in the visionary narratives of Milton (1804–08) and Jerusalem (1804–20). Here, still using his own mythological characters, he portrayed the imaginative artist as the hero of society and suggested the possibility of redemption from the fallen (or Urizenic) condition.
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, meanwhile, were also exploring the implications of the French Revolution. Wordsworth, who lived in France in 1791–92 and fathered an illegitimate child there, was distressed when, soon after his return, Britain declared war on the republic, dividing his allegiance. For the rest of his career, he was to brood on those events, trying to develop a view of humanity that would be faithful to his twin sense of the pathos of individual human fates and the unrealized potentialities in humanity as a whole. The first factor emerges in his early manuscript poems “The Ruined Cottage” and “The Pedlar” (both to form part of the later Excursion); the second was developed from 1797, when he and his sister, Dorothy, with whom he was living in the west of England, were in close contact with Coleridge. Stirred simultaneously by Dorothy’s immediacy of feeling, manifested everywhere in her Journals (written 1798–1803, published 1897), and by Coleridge’s imaginative and speculative genius, he produced the poems collected in Lyrical Ballads (1798). The volume began with Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” continued with poems displaying delight in the powers of nature and the humane instincts of ordinary people, and concluded with the meditative “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” Wordsworth’s attempt to set out his mature faith in nature and humanity.
His investigation of the relationship between nature and the human mind continued in the long autobiographical poem addressed to Coleridge and later titled The Prelude (1798–99 in two books; 1804 in five books; 1805 in 13 books; revised continuously and published posthumously, 1850). Here he traced the value for a poet of having been a child “fostered alike by beauty and by fear” by an upbringing in sublime surroundings. The Preludeconstitutes the most significant English expression of the Romantic discovery of the self as a topic for art and literature. The poem also makes much of the work of memory, a theme explored as well in the “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” In poems such as “Michael” and “The Brothers,” by contrast, written for the second volume of Lyrical Ballads (1800), Wordsworth dwelt on the pathos and potentialities of ordinary lives.
Coleridge’s poetic development during these years paralleled Wordsworth’s. Having briefly brought together images of nature and the mind in “The Eolian Harp” (1796), he devoted himself to more-public concerns in poems of political and social prophecy, such as “Religious Musings” and “The Destiny of Nations.” Becoming disillusioned in 1798 with his earlier politics, however, and encouraged by Wordsworth, he turned back to the relationship between nature and the human mind. Poems such as “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” “The Nightingale,” and “Frost at Midnight” (now sometimes called the “conversation poems” but collected by Coleridge himself as “Meditative Poems in Blank Verse”) combine sensitive descriptions of nature with subtlety of psychological comment. “Kubla Khan” (1797 or 1798, published 1816), a poem that Coleridge said came to him in “a kind of Reverie,” represented a new kind of exotic writing, which he also exploited in the supernaturalism of “The Ancient Mariner” and the unfinished “Christabel.” After his visit to Germany in 1798–99, he renewed attention to the links between the subtler forces in nature and the human psyche; this attention bore fruit in letters, notebooks, literary criticism, theology, and philosophy. Simultaneously, his poetic output became sporadic. “Dejection: An Ode” (1802), another meditative poem, which first took shape as a verse letter to Sara Hutchinson, Wordsworth’s sister-in-law, memorably describes the suspension of his “shaping spirit of Imagination.”
The work of both poets was directed back to national affairs during these years by the rise of Napoleon. In 1802 Wordsworth dedicated a number of sonnets to the patriotic cause. The death in 1805 of his brother John, who was a captain in the merchant navy, was a grim reminder that, while he had been living in retirement as a poet, others had been willing to sacrifice themselves. From this time the theme of duty was to be prominent in his poetry. His political essayConcerning the Relations of Great Britain, Spain and Portugal…as Affected by the Convention of Cintra (1809) agreed with Coleridge’s periodical The Friend (1809–10) in deploring the decline of principle among statesmen. When The Excursion appeared in 1814 (the time of Napoleon’s first exile), Wordsworth announced the poem as the central section of a longer projected work, The Recluse, “a philosophical Poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society.” The plan was not fulfilled, however, and The Excursion was left to stand in its own right as a poem of moral and religious consolation for those who had been disappointed by the failure of French revolutionary ideals.
Both Wordsworth and Coleridge benefited from the advent in 1811 of the Regency, which brought a renewed interest in the arts. Coleridge’s lectures on Shakespeare became fashionable, his playRemorse was briefly produced, and his volume of poems Christabel; Kubla Khan: A Vision; The Pains of Sleep was published in 1816. Biographia Literaria (1817), an account of his own development, combined philosophy and literary criticism in a new way and made an enduring and important contribution to literary theory. Coleridge settled at Highgate in 1816, and he was sought there as “the most impressive talker of his age” (in the words of the essayist William Hazlitt). His later religious writings made a considerable impact on Victorian readers.
Other poets of the early Romantic period
In his own lifetime, Blake’s poetry was scarcely known. Sir Walter Scott, by contrast, was thought of as a major poet for his vigorous and evocative verse narratives The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1808). Other verse writers were also highly esteemed. The Elegiac Sonnets (1784) of Charlotte Smith and the Fourteen Sonnets (1789) of William Lisle Bowles were received with enthusiasm by Coleridge. Thomas Campbell is now chiefly remembered for his patriotic lyrics such as “Ye Mariners of England” and “The Battle of Hohenlinden” (1807) and for the critical preface to his Specimens of the British Poets (1819); Samuel Rogers was known for his brilliant table talk (published 1856, after his death, as Recollections of the Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers), as well as for his exquisite but exiguous poetry. Another admired poet of the day was Thomas Moore, whose Irish Melodies began to appear in 1808. His highly coloured narrative Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance (1817) and his satirical poetry were also immensely popular. Charlotte Smith was not the only significant woman poet in this period. Helen Maria Williams’sPoems (1786), Ann Batten Cristall’s Poetical Sketches (1795), Mary Robinson’sSappho and Phaon (1796), and Mary Tighe’s Psyche (1805) all contain notable work.
Robert Southey was closely associated with Wordsworth and Coleridge and was looked upon as a prominent member, with them, of the “Lake school” of poetry. His originality is best seen in his ballads and his nine “English Eclogues,” three of which were first published in the 1799 volume of his Poems with a prologue explaining that these verse sketches of contemporary life bore “no resemblance to any poems in our language.” His “Oriental” narrative poems Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) and The Curse of Kehama (1810) were successful in their own time, but his fame is based on his prose work—the Life of Nelson (1813), the History of the Peninsular War (1823–32), and his classic formulation of the children’s tale “The Three Bears.”
George Crabbe wrote poetry of another kind: his sensibility, his values, much of his diction, and his heroic couplet verse form belong to the 18th century. He differs from the earlier Augustans, however, in his subject matter, concentrating on realistic, unsentimental accounts of the life of the poor and the middle classes. He shows considerable narrative gifts in his collections of verse tales (in which he anticipates many short-story techniques) and great powers of description. His antipastoral The Village appeared in 1783. After a long silence, he returned to poetry with The Parish Register (1807), The Borough (1810), Tales in Verse (1812), and Tales of the Hall (1819), which gained him great popularity in the early 19th century.