American Literature

At the heart of American literature lies a fascination with whatever is wild, alien, and disturbing—often pointing to issues that arouse terror and unease. From nightmarish Puritan histories and Indian-captivity narratives, to the feverish visions of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, to profound meditations on national sin (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Octavia Butler) to fixations on the precarious self in a world of horrors (Mark Twain, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H. P. Lovecraft, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison), American authors have found creative inspiration in Gothic imaginings. Studying a wide range of texts across time, we will encounter a variety of responses to political, social, and ethical challenges these authors faced.