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ENGL 205G American Literature I & ENGL 255G American Literature II: Colonial Period to Civil War (American Literature I)

This guide is for students in either American Literature course.

Want to browse through some of what we have in the library's collections related to American literary periods, authors, and works prior to the Civil War? Need some inspiration to help you decide on a specific topic to research? See some highlighted resources below. 

Interested in borrowing one or more of these items? Our physical collections are not accessible to the public this semester, but you can request items using our Library to Go and Library to Go PLUS service. Entries and chapters of titles in the reference collections will need to be digitally scanned. Work with a librarian if you have questions or need help. 

Trends, Events, Authors of this Time Period

The Colonial and Early National Period (17th century - 1830)

Trends & Events: diaries, histories, practical and straightforward nonfiction, focus on religion, derivative of literature in Great Britain, future-focused, political writing, philosophy, the American Revolution, rationalism, the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment, the American landscape and society, the emergence of distinctive American literature characteristics

Authors: John Smith, Nathaniel Ward, John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, William Hill Brown, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Joel Barlow, Philip Freneau, others

The Romantic Period (1830 - 1870)

Trends & Events: the Age of Transcendentalism, the emergence of American literary criticism, abolitionist, utopian, women’s suffrage movement, the Civil War. 

Authors: Edgar Allen Poe, James Russell Lowell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, William Wells Brown, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Harriet E. Wilson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, others

Highlighted Items from the Library's Collections

Request Items from our collections

Available by request for campus pickup or UPS delivery through our Library to Go service.

Submit requests online at or find the form at

Click the image to get the item information for the request, search SpartaCat, or work with a librarian. 

James Fenimore Cooper

Available at Bethlehem

Henry David Thoreau

Available at Bethlehem

William Cullen Bryant

Available at Bethlehem

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Available at Bethlehem

Margaret Fuller

Available at Bethlehem

Edgar Allan Poe: a study of the short fiction

Available at Bethlehem and Monroe

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Available at Bethlehem

Walt Whitman

Available at Bethlehem

Looking for More?

Visit the Finding Books and eBooksFinding Articles, and Internet Resources pages of this guide to search for help finding more information about topics.