A brief note: My 19th Century American Literature exam list focuses on texts that work within the American gothic mode. Texts marked in red are those which may eventually disappear from the list. I’ve also included some literary criticism in order to concentrate my readings on key schools of thought that interest me.

I’ve included hyperlinks to my blogged notes for each text.




Royall Tyler (1757-1826)

The Contrast (1787)


William Dunlap (1766-1839)

André (1798)


James Nelson Barker (1784-1858)

The Tragedy of Superstition; or, the Fanatic Father (1824)




Hector St. John de Crèvecœur (1735-1813)

Selections from Letters from an American Farmer (1782)


Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

From Notes on the State of Virginia (1785): Queries VI, XI, XIV, and XVIII


Susanna Rowson (1762-1824)

Charlotte Temple (1791)


Hannah Webster Foster (1758-1840)

The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton (1797)


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (published 1803)


Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810)

Wieland, or The Transformation (1798)

Arthur Mervyn (1799)

Edgar Huntly (1799)


Rebecca Rush (1779-1850)

Kelroy (1812)


Washington Irving (1783-1859)

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1819)

“Rip Van Winkle” (1819)


James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

The Last of the Mohicans (1826)

Preface to Leatherstocking Tales (1850)


Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867)

Hope Leslie (1827)


Thomas Gray (1800-?)

Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)


Robert Montgomery Bird (1806-1854)

Nick of the Woods; or, The Jibbenainesay (1837)


William Apess (1798-1839)

“An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” (1833)


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“Nature” (1836) “Self-Reliance” (1841) “The Poet” (1844)  “Experience” (1844)


Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

“Ligeia” (1838)

“The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)

“William Wilson” (1839)

“The Man of the Crowd” (1840)

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841)

“The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843)

“The Black Cat” (1843)

“The Purloined Letter” (1844)

“The Philosophy of Composition” (1846)

Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)


Catherine Beecher (1800-1878)

Selections from “Treatise on Domestic Economy” (1841)


George Lippard (1822-1854)

The Quaker City, or, the Monks of Monk Hall: A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (1844)


Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

“The Minister’s Black Veil” (1832)

“The Birthmark” (1843)

“Rappacini’s Daughter” (1844)

“Young Goodman Brown” (1846)

The Scarlet Letter (1850)

The House of the Seven Gables (1851)

The Blithedale Romance (1852)


Frederick Douglass (1817?- 1895)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845)


Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)

“The Great Lawsuit” (1843-45)


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

“Civil Disobedience” (1849)

Selections from Walden (1854)


Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Moby Dick (1851)

Benito Cereno (1856)

“Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1856)


George G. Foster (1814?-1856)

“New York by Gas-light” (1850)


Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)


Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910)

Life in the Iron Mills (1861)


Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897)

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)


Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

“The Abbot’s Ghost” (1867)

“A Whisper in the Dark” (1877)

(selections from) Little Women (1868)


Bret Harte (1836-1902)

“The Luck of the Roaring Camp” (1868)

“The Outcasts of Poker Flat” (1870)


Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Memoranda During the War (1875)


Joel Chandler Harris (1845-1908)

from Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1881):“The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story” and “How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox”


Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)


Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)

“A White Heron” (1886)


William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)

“Novel Writing and Novel Reading” (1899)


George Washington Cable (1844-1925)

“Jean Ah-Poquelin” (1883)

“The Haunted House on Royal Street” (1889)


Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922)

from In Ole Virginia (1887): “Marse Chan: A Tale of Old Virginia”


Charles Chesnutt (1858-1932)

from The Conjure Woman (1899): “The Goophered Grapevine,” “Po’ Sandy,” and “Lonesome Ben”


Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932)

“The Frontier Thesis” (1893)


Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

“Chickamauga” (1891)

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1891)

“The Damned Thing” (1893)

“The Eyes of the Panther” (1897)


Mary Wilkins Freeman (1852 – 1930)

“A New England Nun” (1891)

“The Revolt of Mother” (1891)


Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

“The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)


Henry James (1843-1916)

Washington Square (1880)

The Turn of the Screw (1898)

“The Art of Fiction” (1884)

“Beast in the Jungle” (1903)

“The Jolly Corner” (1908)



Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

“Indian Burial Ground” (1787, 1795) “On Mr. Paine’s Rights of Man” (1791, 1809)


William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

”Thanatopsis” (1817)


Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

“The City in the Sea” (1831, 1845) “The Sleeper” (1831) “To Helen” (1831, 1845) “The Raven” (1845) “Annabel Lee” (1845), “For Annie” (1849)


John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

“To William Lloyd Garrison” (1832) “The Slave-Ships” (1834) “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” (1866)


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1891)

Selections from “The Song of Hiawatha” (1855)


Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

“Preface” to Leaves of Grass (1855)

from Leaves of Grass (1891 edition): “Song of Myself,” “I Sing the Body Electric” “The Wound Dresser,” “Beat! Beat! Drums!” “Vigil Strange…” “A March in the Ranks…,” “A Sight in Camp…,” “The Artilleryman’s Vision,” “Old War Dreams,” “Ashes of Soldiers,” “Pensive on her Dead Gazing,” “This Compost,” “Come Up from the Fields Father,” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”


Herman Melville (1819-1891)

“Shiloh: A Requiem” (1862) “The Portent” (1859), “The Martyr” (1866), “Misgivings” (1861), “Ball’s Bluff” (1861)


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

“Success is counted sweetest” (1857), “I’m ‘wife’ – I’ve finished that– ” (1860), “‘Faith’ is a fine invention” (1860), “I’m Nobody! Who are You?” (1861), “I felt a Funeral in my Brain” (1861), “The Brain- is Wider than the Sky (1862), “I heard a Fly buzz- when I died” (1862), “I dreaded that first robin, so” (1862), “Much Madness is divinest Sense” (1862), “Because I could not stop for Death” (1863), “My life had stood– a Loaded Gun” (1863), “Faith- is the pierless bridge” (1865), “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” (1868)




Leslie Fiedler

From Love and Death in the American Novel: “Charles Brockden Brown and the Invention of the American Gothic,” “The Blackness of Darkness: Edgar Allan Poe and the Development of the Gothic”


Teresa A. Goddu

Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation (1997)


Dawn Keetley and Matthew Wynn Sivils

Ecogothic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (2017)


Russ Castronovo

NecroCitizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States (2001)


Siân Silyn Roberts

Gothic Subjects (2014)

19th Century American Literature List by Caitlin Duffy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.