The field of colonial and U.S. literature to 1900 spans from the earliest colonial period in North America and the Caribbean to the turn of the twentieth century in what is now called the United States. Studies in the field address a range of literary and printed texts that emerged during this period, including political and religious tracts, captivity narratives, historical romances, comics, realist novels and more. Our faculty have broad research interests in gender studies, critical race studies, the history of authorship, institutional history, class and economics, poetics, and the material production and circulation of books, magazines and newspapers.
Students in the field benefit from engaged mentoring and hands-on archival research at local and regional libraries and repositories, including Ohio State’s nationally recognized Charvat Collection of American Literature. The department also offers undergraduate study abroad experiences related to colonial and U.S. literature. Classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level include core courses in the chronological development of American literature, as well as specialized topics such as popular culture, visual culture, feminist theory, adoption and kinship studies, psychoanalysis, political economics and medical humanities.
Many of our faculty have won major teaching awards and serve on the editorial boards of innovative journals and presses in the field, including American Literary History, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, American Periodicals, Legacy:A Journal of American Women Writers, Gothic Nature, Narrative, Adoption & Culture, Inks: Journal of the American Comics Society; and the Ohio State University Press.
- 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: Early-American literature, history of science, feminism, affect theory, seventeenth-century writing and colonialism
- Jared Gardner: American literature to 1800, periodical studies, historical popular culture, comic studies
- Elizabeth Hewitt: American 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
- Elizabeth Renker: American literature to 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. Williams: African 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: 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: Nineteenth-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 of Pandemic from Bubonic Plague to Zombies [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: 18th- and 19th-Century Serialities [Gardner]; Meter-Making Arguments: Emily Dickinson and American Poetics [Hewitt]; Labor and Class Representation [A. Williams]
- English 3364: Special Topics in Popular Culture
- Alternative Rock Lyrics as Poems [Renker]
- True Crime [Hewitt]
- English 3378: Special Topics in Film and Literature
- Crash Stories: Representing 1929 and 2008 [Hewitt]
- English 4575: Special Topics in Literary Forms and Themes
- The Moral Life of the Passions, 1790-1890 [Hughes]
- 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]
- English 4592: Special Topics in Women and Literature
- Gender and Empire [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]
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 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.