Cover image for Writers of the American Renaissance : an A-to-Z guide
Writers of the American Renaissance : an A-to-Z guide
Knight, Denise D., 1954-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 458 pages ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS201 .W75 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The American literary canon has undergone revision and expansion in recent years, and our notions of the 19th-century renaissance have been reevaluated. Mainstream anthologies have been revised to reflect the expanding literary canon, yet resources for readers have remained widely scattered. This book expands earlier definitions of the 19th-century American Renaissance as represented by canonical writers such as Emerson and Poe, covering writers who published popular fiction and dominated the literary marketplace of the day. Included is generous coverage of women writers and writers of color.

The volume provides alphabetically arranged entries for more than 70 writers of the period, including Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and many more.

Each entry was written by an expert contributor and includes a brief biography, a discussion of major works and themes, a survey of the writer's critical reception, and primary and secondary bibliographies.

Author Notes

DENISE D. KNIGHT is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies in English at the State University of New York, Cortland. She is the author of several books, including Writers of the American Renaissance: An A-to-Z Guide (Greenwood, 2003), Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Study of the Short Fiction (1997), and Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (Greenwood, 1997), and coauthor of Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (Greenwood, 1993).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Knight lists alphabetically 74 writers of the 19th-century American Renaissance, examining those who were actively writing in various genres, roughly 1830-61. The editor's common denominator for inclusion is that "the writings of each author aid in illuminating the complex social, historical, and cultural climate of the American renaissance," while representing a fair number of women writers and writers of color. Inclusion is a balancing act between achieving this well-intended goal and including writers who are studied in college courses and may or may not be well represented in other literary reference works. Knight strikes this balance satisfactorily, in part by including most writers represented in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th ed., v.B, 1820-65 (2003), a work used extensively in college American literature survey courses. The entry for each writer, written by a scholar, includes a personal biography, discussion of major works and themes, survey of critical response, and a two-part bibliography citing works by and studies of the author. A select bibliography at the end includes works about various aspects of this literary period. The index points readers to discussions of the writer's important relationships and to specific works mentioned in the main entry. While making a solid contribution to the field, this title shares a failing common to many edited reference books--uneven writing quality and varying degrees of depth and comprehensiveness. For academic libraries that do not provide access to Gale's Internet resource, Literature Resource Center (CH, Dec'99). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; undergraduates; graduate students. P. Mardeusz University of Vermont