Reading List 5: American Literature to 1865

Faculty Committee:  Jeannine DeLombard, Mark Maslan, Christopher Newfield

It is assumed that students taking the first qualifying examination in American Literature to 1865 will be familiar not only with the following primary texts but also with the principal critical and interpretive issues concerning these texts and the period as a whole.  Students are thus encouraged to read widely in the relevant secondary literature.  Figures and selections marked with an asterisk (*) indicate that the relevant material can be found in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition, Vol. 1.  Those marked with a cross (+) are digitized and available online, consult with the Staff Graduate Adviser.


The Literature of Discovery
Christopher Columbus*
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca*
Samuel de Champlain*

Early Settlers I
John Smith*
Thomas Morton*

Early Settlers II
John Winthrop*
William Bradford*

New England Poets
Anne Bradstreet*, “To My Dear Children”+
Michael Wigglesworth*
Edward Taylor*

Anne Hutchinson+

Mary Rowlandson*

Cotton Mather*

Southern Writers
William Byrd*

Jonathan Edwards, “A Divine and Supernatural Light”* (Heath, 1990), “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”*

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography

Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer

John and Abigail Adams*

Thomas Paine*

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

The Federalist Papers
No. 1+ (Alexander Hamilton)
No. 10* (James Madison)

Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano), The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.  Written by Himself

Eighteenth-Century Poets
Philip Freneau*
Phyllis Wheatley*

Royall Tyler, The Contrast

Hannah Foster, The Coquette

Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland

Washington Irving, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers

Ralph Waldo Emerson*

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Edgar Allan Poe*

American Oratory
Abraham Lincoln*
William Apess*
Elias Boudinot*

Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Walt Whitman*

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Emily Dickinson*

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “Letter to Mrs. Higginson on Emily Dickinson”*