The course is an overview of representative texts by and about women in nineteenth-century America. In order better to contextualize the texts, we shall be looking at two earlier traditions informing writing by women that are mutually compatible rather than exclusionary. The one is represented by Rowlandson’s captivity narrative and situates a woman at the centre of the project of nation-building, while the other is exemplified by Rowson’s hugely popular sentimental/ seduction novel, from which the novel writing in the States takes off. Thus the feminine tradition appears to be crucial from the very beginning for the way the American nation describes and represents itself. This argument, however, becomes possible only in the wake of the strong intervention into the field of literary history and literary canon formation enacted by feminist, poststructuralist, new historicist and cultural critics from the 1970s onwards.