- Expansion of book publishing, magazines, newspapers
- Industrial Revolution
- Abolitionist movement
- Short stories, novels, poetry
- Imagination over reason, intuition over fact
- Focused on the fantastic of human experience
- Writing that can be interpreted two ways: surface and in depth
- Focus on inner feelings
- Gothic literature (sub-genre of romanticism): use of supernatural, character with both evil and good characteristics, dark landscape, depressed characters.
- Washington Irving
- Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) – wrote about sin and guilt, consequences of pride, selfishness; The Scarlet Letter; Short Stories
- Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) – a bad childhood; substance abuse problems; reviled in his day; created the modern short story and detective story; Poems: The Raven, Annabell Lee; attacked two long-standing conventions: a poem has to be long and it must teach a lesson; Short Stories – Fall of the House of Usher; inspired future detective/horror stories
- Herman Melville (1819-1891) – ranked as one of America’s top novelists, but recognized by few in his own time; Moby Dick – America’s greatest prose epic.