Question Categories/Topics

  1. How can we define the American gothic? What is the American gothic- mode or genre?
  2. Why are the confidence man and painted lady such recurring characters in 19th century American fiction? How do they function within the American gothic mode? Do either of these figures still exist in current American gothic fiction?1
  3. Why do the languages of economics and gambling so often appear within 19th century American marriage plot and seduction narratives?  2
  4. What does the haunted house signify within 19th century American literature? Why is this a repeated American gothic site? (home and domesticity, the idea of home and d is also a powerful recurrent trope in the lit of this period- examples where home is really central, domestic ideology- catherine beecher the home stabilizes the home is a stabilize repository of virtues and values, the angel in the house, purity- Mrs. Bird, persuasion/ separate spheres, Mrs. Shelby/Mr. Shelby- religion to slaves and get married- conscious enough for the both of us, the south is a perversion of domesticity, the quaker home is ideal (the woman rules, perfectly run house), home and the business can’t run together, that’s why the shelby home is not perfect)
  5. How does race figure into the American gothic mode? What are some common elements or features of 19th century American racial gothic? 3
  6. How can we define the American ecogothic? What are some of the common sites or themes of the American ecogothic? 4
  7. Why are anxieties of the destabilized self so common within 19th century American gothic fiction? 5

Choose three examples that author different examples of the meaning and impact of the civil war (poetry)

1880s and 1890s- protomodernist

Class- Silas Latham more positive like Franklin

trace the major developments in the american novel- the sentimental novel, the historical romance, the romance, realism; realism vs. modernism, realism vs romance, the varieties of realism- regionalism (Twain),


romantic- moby dick – the truth is not on the surface- connect with Hawthorne’s theory (preface to 7 gables)

  1. Notes for myself: connection to democracy, affect/atmosphere/contagion, the american dream, american gothic figure vs. non-gothic texts (i.e.: Huck Finn), where is this character now? The lady killer!….instead talk about fluidity / mobility as characteristic of American identity. – some examples of characters that display this characteristic in men and women; fluidity of character as a positive american ideal, is this ever seen in negative terms- positive Natty Bumpko – man without a cross, there’s a limitation to his fluidity
  2. Notes: The marriage plot as financial game, gambling, performance/sight, entrepreneurial- how to be artless yet also maintain perfect performance within the system? might be broadened- economies of self- ben franklin, his notion of American character (frugality), Thoreau and economy, why economy tends to cross over so much that is articulating something about the American character rather than just in the economic realm, then what about women, don’t need to look at gambling necessarily
  3. Notes: race and uncanny animatedness, racial gothic in general; Race, consumption, fear of mutiny
  4. Notes: how is it defined? how is it represented? does it connect to any of the other american gothic categories? (may connect to racial gothic)
  5. may connect to con man convo and racial gothic), distinguish between the kinds of anxieties in the romantic era vs. protomodernist gothic, how does the gothic play out in drama vs. narrative prose vs. poetry

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