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Faculty Expertise in American Literature Before 1900

Undergraduate and graduate students in American literature before 1900 will have the opportunity to work with faculty whose areas of expertise range from colonial Anglophone writing in North America to shifts in literary production at the turn of the twentieth century, often classified as the late Gilded Age and early modernism. Faculty teach courses that trace the historical development of American literature and highlight specialized topics such as print culture, gender studies, critical race studies, genre, concepts of the canon and “major” authors, newly discovered and long-neglected writers, poetics, class, and economics. Our students benefit from engaged teaching and mentoring.  Many of our faculty have won major teaching awards. Diverse individualized opportunities are available to students concentrating in this area, including learning to conduct hands-on archival research (such as in Ohio State’s nationally recognized Charvat Collection of American Literature and our many collections in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library) and developing independent research projects with faculty mentors. 

Our current faculty are listed below along with their areas of research specialization.  You will find lengthy descriptions of each faculty member’s publications and particular research and teaching interests on the English Department People page.


  • Cynthia A. Callahan (Mansfield campus): U.S. and multi-ethnic literature, African American literature, adoption studies 
  • Sara Crosby (Marion campus): Early and antebellum American literature, American popular culture, eco-criticism and gender studies 
  • Molly J. Farrell: Colonial and early national American literature; science studies; women's, gender and sexuality studies; affect theory; book history
  • Jared Gardner: American literature to 1800, periodical studies, historical popular culture, comic studies 
  • Elizabeth HewittAmerican literature before 1900, African American literature, economics and literature, poetry, popular culture, science fiction 
  • Robert Hughes (Newark campus): American literature 1790-1865, contemporary continental philosophies of art and aesthetics, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory
  • Koritha Mitchell: African American literature, violence in American history and contemporary culture, Black women writers, Black drama and performance
  • Elizabeth RenkerAmerican literature especially 1860-1900, poetry and poetics, Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, Herman Melville, Sarah Piatt, the history of English as a discipline, the history of higher education 
  • Andreá N. WilliamsAfrican American literature, black periodicals and print culture, labor and class studies, black women writers, and auto/biography studies and life writing 
  • Susan Williams: American literature to 1900, history of authorship, literature and other arts, including visual culture, law and literature 


  • English 2290: Colonial and U.S. Literature to 1865
  • English 2291: U.S. Literature, 1865 to Present
  • English 4550: Special Topics in Colonial and Early National Literature of the U.S. 
    • Recent topics include: Alexander Hamilton’s World [Hewitt]; Early American Gothic [Gardner]
  • English 4551: Special Topics in 19th-Century U.S. Literature 
    • Recent topics include: Popular Culture, Industrial Print and the Remaking of American Literature, 1830s-1890s [Gardner]; Photography and Literature [S. Williams]; Age of Imprisonment [Farrell]; Labor and Class Mobility in U.S. Fiction [A. Williams]; #Resistance: The Literature of Social Reform in U.S. 19th Century [Hewitt]; The 1850s: American and Continental Pairings [Hughes]; Words of Fire: 19th-century Literature and Activism [A. Williams] 
  • English 4552: Special Topics in American Poetry through 1915
    • Recent topics include: Emily Dickinson, Inc. [Hewitt]; Reconstruction and the Gilded Age [Renker]; Poetic Storytelling in the American Literary Tradition [Hewitt]
  • English 4564.03: Major Author in American Literature to 1900
    • Recent topics include: “Herman Melville Crazy” [Hewitt]
  • English 4590.08H: Honors U.S. and Colonial Literature 
    • Recent topics include: Outbreak Narratives [Farrell]; 19th-Century Popular Literature & New Media [Gardner]
  • English 6755: Intro to Grad Study in American Literature, Origins to 1840
  • English 6756: Intro to Grad Study in American Literature, 1840-1914
  • English 6757.01: Intro to Grad Study in African American Literature to 1900 
  • English 7850: Seminar in U.S. Literatures before 1900 
    • Recent topics include: American Radicalism: The Literature of Protest in the US, 1776-1906 [Hewitt]; Archival Research Methods and American Literature [Renker]; "Outbreak Narratives" [Farrell]; Meter-Making Arguments: Emily Dickinson and American Poetics [Hewitt]; Labor and Class Representation [A. Williams]
  • English 2260: Introduction to Poetry
    • "Ohio Poets" [Farrell]
  • English 2261: Introduction to Fiction
    • Game of Thrones as Literature [Renker]
  • English 3364: Special Topics in Popular Culture
    • True Crime [Hewitt] 
  • English 3372: Special Topics in Science Fiction and Fantasy
    • "Octavia Butler's Visions" [Farrell]
  • English 3378: Special Topics in Film and Literature
    • Crash Stories: Representing 1929 and 2008 [Hewitt] 
  • English 4575: Special Topics in Literary Forms and Themes
    • “Children’s Literatures of Greater London, 1671-Present.” Literary Locations London Study Abroad Course [Farrell]
    • The Moral Life of the Passions, 1790-1890 [Hughes]
  • English 4580: Special Topics in LGBT Literature
    • Queer of Color Life & Life Writing [Mitchell]
    • Baldwin, Lorde, & LGBT Liberation [Mitchell]
  • English 4581: Topics in U.S. Ethnic Literatures
    • Making the Modern Family: Adoption in American Literature and Culture [Callahan]
  • English 4582: Special Topics in African American Literature
    • Singleness, Love and Marriage in Black Literature [A. Williams]
    • Gender, Sexuality, & Citizenship [Mitchell]
  • English 4583: The Literature of the Black Atlantic [Hewitt]
  • English 4592: Special Topics in Women and Literature
    • “Gender and Empire.” [Farrell] 
    • “Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt and the 19th Century World of Gender.” [Renker]
    • “African American Women’s Poetry Books, 1773-Present [Farrell]
    • Exchanging Women and the Literature of the American Flesh Trade [Hewitt]
  • English 4595: Special Topics in Literature and Law
    • Literature and Law in the United States: Copyright, Inheritance, Shaming Laws, and Civil Rights [S. Williams]
  • English 7876 Seminar in Critical Theory "Reading For Feeling" [Farrell]

Through graduate workshops, students and faculty engage with visiting scholars of American literature. Recent speakers include Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Julia Stern and Justine S. Murison. 


The Charles Brockden Brown Electronic Archive and Scholarly Edition is a project dedicated to publishing the uncollected writings of Charles Brockden Brown.

The Ohio State University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library's Charvat Collection of American Literature is nationally recognized for its outstanding holdings of American fiction published from the eighteenth century to the present.

Ohio State's holdings of American fiction published through 1900 are among the strongest in the nation, and are particularly strong for the period 1876-1900. The collection's holdings for the years 1901-1925 are rivaled only by those of the Library of Congress, and the holdings for 1926-1950 are being actively developed.

This wide-ranging collection provides materials not available elsewhere that support research and teaching about this recently rediscovered American poet.  Individual projects currently include: