Textos literarios norteamericanos I
Women's writing(s) in the nineteenth century

Matilde Martín González

This course on 19thc. women's fiction explores the literary contribution of women writers whose work has been until recently overlooked by mainstream American literary history. The course attempts to fill the gaps that our students have about the 19th. century and intends to give them a wider overview of the whole period. The syllabus includes women writers belonging to minority ethnic groups such as the African American or the Native American, along with others who have become canonical figures of 19thc. literature by women.


  1. Social and cultural introduction to the nineteenth century.
  2. Literary introduction to women's writings in the 19thc.: The forms and topics of women's writings.Critical groundwork for textual analysis.
  3. Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) and the historical novel: Hobomok (1824).
  4. Fanny Fern (1811-1872), "the woman who wrote as if the devil were in her": Femininity and social transgression in Ruth Hall (1855).
  5. Frances Harper (1825-1911) and Harriet A. Jacobs (1813-1897): African-American voices. Harper: "The Two Offers" (1859). Poetry: "Learning to Read", "Aunt Chloe's Politics". Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), extract.
  6. Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910), precursor of Naturalism: "Life in the Iron Mills" (1861).
  7. Sarah Winnemucca and the rendering of Indian life: Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1881), extracts.
  8. Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), or the plight of middle-class women: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892).

Texts and Authors

Hobomok (1824)

"Life in the Iron Mills"(1861)

FANNY FERN (S. P. Willis)
Ruth Hall (1855)

"The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892)

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

"The Two Offers"
"Learning to Read"
"Aunt Chloe's Politics"

Life among the Piutes (1881)

Basic Bibliography

Baym, Nina (1992)
Feminism and American Literary History, Rutgers UP.
Baym, Nina (1993)
Woman's Fiction, U. of Illinois P.
Davidson, Cathy (1986)
Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America, Oxford UP.
Fuller, Margaret, (1845)
Woman in the Nineteenth Century
Gilbert, S., & S. Gubar, eds. (1985)
The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, NY-London: Norton.
Harris, Susan (1990)
19th-Century American Women's Novels, Cambridge UP
Kilcup, Karen, (1998)
Nineteenth Century American Women Writers: A Critical Reader, Massachusetts: Blackwell
Tompkins, Jane, (1986)
Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860, Oxford UP.

Specific Bibliography

On Lydia Maria Child

Clifford, D.P.
Crusader for Freedom: A Life of Lydia Maria Child. Boston: Beacon, 1992.
Holland, P.
"Legacy Profile." Legacy 5.2 (1988): 45-53
Karcher, C.L. (ed.)
A Lydia Maria Child Reader. Duke UP., 1997.
Karcher, C.L. (ed.)
Hobomok and Other Writings on Indians. Rutgers UP, 1998.
Person, L.D.
"The American Eve: Miscegenation and a Feminist Frontier Fiction." American Quarterly 37.5 (1985): 668-85.

On Fanny Fern

Hamilton, K.
"The Politics of Survival: Sara Parton's Ruth Hall and the Literature of Labor". S.M. Harris (ed.) Redefining the Political Novel. The U. of Tennessee P., 1995.
Harris, S.K.
19thc. American Women's Novels: Interpretive Strategies (Part III: chapter 4) Cambridge UP, 1990.
Smith, S.B.
"Introduction" to the Penguin edition of Ruth Hall, 1997.
Warren, J.W.
"Domesticity and the Economics of Independence: Resistance and Revolution in the Work of Fanny Fern." J.W. Warren (ed.) The (Other) American Traditions. Rutgers UP, 1993.
Warren, J.W.
"Fracturing Gender: Woman's Economic Independence." K. Kilcup (ed.) Nineteenth Century American Women Writers: A Critical Reader, Blackwell, 1998.
Wood, A.D.
"The 'Scribbling Women' and Fanny Fern: Why Women Wrote." American Quarterly 23.1 (1971): 3-24.

On Frances Harper

Ammons, E.
"Legacy Profile." Legacy 2.2 (1985): 66.
Carby, H.
Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of he Afro-American Woman Novelist (chapter 4). Oxford UP, 1987.
Foster, F.S.
A Brighter Coming Day: A Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Reader. NY: The Feminist Press, 1990.
Lauter, P.
"Is Frances Harper Good Enough to Teach?" Legacy 5.1 (1988): 27-32.

On Harriet Jacobs

Braxton, J.
"Harriet Jacobs's Incidents: The Redefinition of the Slave Narrative Genre." Massachusetts Review 27 (1986): 379-87.
Cutter, M.J.
"Dismantling 'The Master's House': Critical Literacy in Harriet Jacobs's Incidents." Callaloo 19.1 (1996): 209
Nudelman, F.
"Harriet Jacobs and the Sentimental Politics of Female Suffering." English Literary History 59.4 (1992): 939-64.
Randle, G.T.
"Between the Rock and the Hard Place: Mediating Spaces in Harriet Jacobs's Incidents." African American Review 33.1 (1999)
Sánchez-Eppler, K.
"Righting Slaves and Writing Sex: The Erotics of Narration in Harriet Jacobs's Incidents". K. Sánchez-Eppler. Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism and the Politics of the Body. U of California P, 1993.
Zafar, R., & Garfield, ed.
Harriet Jacobs and Incidents: New Critical Essays. Cambridge UP, 1996.

On Rebecca Harding Davis

Phaelzer, J.
"Profile." Legacy 7.2 (1990): 39-45.
Phaelzer, J.
A Rebecca Harding Davis Reader. U. of Pittsburgh P., 1996.
Thomson, R.G.
"Benevolent Maternalism and Physically Disabled Figures: Dilemmas of Female Embodiment in Stowe, Davis and Phelps." American Literature 68.3 (1996): 555-86.

On Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Golden, C.
"The Writing of 'The Yellow Wallpaper': A Double Palimpsest." Studies in American Fiction 17.2 (1989)
Hume, B.
"Gilman's 'Interminable Grotesque': The Narrator of 'The Yellow Wallpaper'" Studies in Short Fiction 28.4 (1991)
Lane, A.J.
(ed.) The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader. UP of Virginia, 1999.
Shumaker, C.
"Realism, Reform and the Audience: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper'" Arizona Quarterly 47.1 (1991)
Veeder, W.
"Who Is Jane: The Intricate Feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman" Arizona Quarterly 44.3 (1988):