American Literature: From Romanticism to Realism

AmLit6American Literature: from Romanticism to Realism is a compulsory survey course at the BA level.
The course focuses on the major literary movements of the 18th and 19th century and their representatives by analyzing a number of canonical texts in prose and poetry.
The Moodle component of the course is aimed to aid students in their analysis and study of specific texts discussed during the seminars by offering a wealth of material for individual, online exploration, a discussion forum and quizzes for self-assessment.

AMERICAN LITERATURE: from Romanticism to Realism
One semester survey course
6 ETCS (4+2) 30 lectures + 30 seminars (2+2)
Lecturers: Prof. Madeleine Danova, Dr. Alexandra Glavanakova, Dr. Veselin Budakov

I. THE COLONIAL PERIOD. Beginnings to 1810

1. Puritan Literature (1620-1743). Genre development: history and chronicle, theological writing; poetry and prose
2. The Age of Reason (1743-1810): Benjamin Franklin
3. The Great Awakening: Jonathan Edwards
4. Emergent national literature: political writing, poetry, prose in the early Republic.

5. Early Romanticism: Washington Irving and the Knickerbocker Group.
James Fenimore Cooper.
6. Poetry: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson.
7. Late Romanticism: Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville .
8. Abolitionist Literature and Slave Narratives: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass.


9. The Problem of American Realism: Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett.
10. Psychological Realism and Experimentation: Henry James, Kate Chopin.
11. American Naturalism: Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser.
12. Women’s Literature: Edith Wharton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

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1: Introduction to course, requirements and grading.

2: Benjamin Franklin, “The Project for Moral Perfection”, from Autobiography

3: Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

4: R. W. Emerson, The Poet (essay) Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” (sections 1-8, 16, 24);

5: Emily Dickinson, a selection of poems – 435, 601, 613, 642, 657, 670, 1129;

6: Edgar A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Philosophy of Composition (essay) – Romanticism

7: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

8: Herman Melville, Benito Cereno

9: Harriet B. Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

10: Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Realism

11: Henry James, The Figure in the Carpet, The Art of Fiction (essay)

12: Stephen Crane, The Open Boat – Naturalism

13: Charlotte P. Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper; Kate Chopin, The Awakening – Modernism


REQUIREMENTS: CLASS PARTICIPATION (10p.); ORAL PRESENTATION (10 p.); MID-TERM QUIZ (25p.); FINAL WRITTEN EXAM (55p.). All these contribute points up to 100 points maximum that form your final grade. The pass level is 60 points.

MID-TERM QUIZ: i. Definition of important concepts (literary and cultural); ii. multiple-choice questions.

FINAL EXAM: i. Identify a passage from the texts included in the reading list and answer specific questions related to it; ii. write an essay (a choice from two given topics) on a topic included in the syllabus).






General Interest

Columbia University’s Bartleby Library

Both contemporary and classic reference works accessible in a comprehensive public reference collection online

National Humanities Center  Tool box Library

Library of Congress’ American Memory

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Outline of American Literature
A very useful hyperlinked site on the history of American Literature created by American Informational Agency, gives interesting information on various trends such as traditionalism, neoclassism, Midwestern Realism, etc.

Alan Liu’s Voice of the Shuttle at University of California, Santa Barbara

The earliest and probably largest list of links on humanitarian topics.

Kingwood College Library. American Cultural History: the 20th century.

A Webguide for each decade of the 20th century, providing historical and cultural background.

American Authors on the Web
A very good hyperlinked site on American authors founded in 1996, it presents a chronological listing of almost 800 authors and includеs the authors’ short biographies, works, critical essays, etc.

The Internet Public Library


Online literary criticism collection. American literature: 20th century.

Literary Movements This site provides information about a variety of literary movements including Calvinism, Travel Narratives, Captivity Narratives, and Domestic Fiction. Information about each includes characteristics, authors, and techniques of the genre. Other site …

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th edition, vol.D: 1914-1945; vol.E: since 1945

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 4th edition

The site provides a timeline, biography of authors and links to academic sites for particular authors.

Electronic Poetry Center , SUNY Buffalo .

The site includes 150 American poets. – The Academy of American Poets

This site provides biography and links to resources on American poets.

The Mississippi Writers Page – University of Mississippi

A very good site to start on W. Faulkner  

African-American Writers: A Celebration at Middle Tennessee State University

Meta-site including links to many general resources, as well as to individual African-American writers.

Voices from the Gaps. Women Writers of Color at the University of Minnesota

A major site on North American women writers from different ethnic backgrounds.

The Literary Encyclopedia and Literary Dictionary

The site provides author profiles, text profiles and topic essays in a series of user-friendly indexed databases. Links to other useful resources can be found at the foot of each entry.

Postmodernism is/in Fiction

A site dedicated to the exploration of contemporary writers. Original essays and links on Acker, Auster, DeLillo,  Marquez, Gibson, Hagedom, Morrison, Powers, Pynchon.

Early America Puritan Tradition: the American Sense

PAL: Perspectives in American Literature

Sites on American authors used in the reading list – 19th century

B.Franklin’s page:
N.Hawthorne’s pages:

Asahel Nettleton:  Sermons From the Second Great Awakening

PAL: Perspectives in American Literature

Washington Irving’s page:
E.A.Poe’s Society of Baltimore:
The Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive:

W.Whitman and E.Dickinson:

Emily Dickinson:

Harriet Beecher Stowe:

Between the Rhetoric of Abolition and Feminism: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin

In and Out of the Kitchen: Women’s Work and Networks in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

Making of America: “Abolition of Slavery” Forever Impossible

Illustrations for a variety of editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Kate Chopin:




Elliot, Emory (gen.ed.) Columbia Literary History of the US.

Elliot, Emory (ed.) Columbia History of the American Novel.

Bercovitch, Sacvan (gen.ed.) The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol.I, II, VIII

Bercovitch, Sacvan (ed.) Reconstructing American Literary History

Brooks, Cleanth & Robert Penn Warren, American Literature: The Makers and the Making, 1973

Spiller, Robert. A Literary History of the US

Hutner, Gordon (ed.) The American Literary History

The Heath Anthology of American Literature

Inge, Thomas (ed.) A Nineteenth Century American Reader

Hubbell, J.B. (ed. et. al.) – Eight American Authors

Parrington, V. L., Main Currents in American Thought, Vol. III: The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America ( New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1930), 323-34;



Mathiessen, F.O. American Renaissance

Reynolds, D. S. Beneath the American Renaissance

Pease. D., Visionary Compacts. American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context

Bell, M. D., The Development of the American Romance

Kazin, A., American Procession

Lewis R.W.B., Trials of the Word

Lewis R.W.B., The American Adam. Innocence, Tragedy and Tradition in the 19th century

Chase, R., The American Novel and its Tradition

Sundquist, E., American Realism: New Essays

Bell, M. D., The Problem of American Realism, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1993);

Walcutt, Cl., American Literary Naturalism: A Stream Divided (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956);

Ahnebrink, L. The Beginnings of Naturalism in American Fiction 1891-1903 ( New York: Russell && Russell, 1961);

Pizer, D. Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1966)

Conder, J.J. Naturalism in American Fiction: The Classic Phase (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984)

Howard, J. Form and History in American Literary Naturalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985);

Seltzer, M. “The Naturalist Machine”{, in Sex, Politics, and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Novel, ed. Ruth Bernard Yeazell (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 116-47;

Michaels, W.B. The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism: American Literature at the Turn of the Century (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1987);

Mitchell, L.C. Determined Fictions: American Literary Naturalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989);


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