Future Shock (03:00)
Experts describe the backdrop to which the American Gothic writers emerged. The country changes at a rapid pace.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (03:00)
American Gothic writing in the 1820s and 1830s are a reflection of the country's challenges and uncertainties. Hawthorne, a descendant of puritans, was born in 1804. He confronted his past in "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Scarlet Letter."
Absolute Faith (02:01)
Priscilla Wald describes Hawthorne's interest in Puritanism. Emory Elliott believes that Hawthorne was suspicious of anything that claimed to be an absolute.
Herman Melville (03:32)
Hawthorne influenced Melville's work; hear an excerpt from "Hawthorne and His Mosses." Experts describe the meaning of the white whale.
Melville's Early Years (03:13)
Melville was born to a wealthy family in 1819; the family fell into debt after his father's death. Melville spent his youth at sea. Elliott calls "Moby Dick" a turning point in Melville's writing.
What is America? (02:06)
Moby Dick is a commentary on the changes in America. Elliott describes the different people aboard the Pequod.
Emily Dickinson (03:37)
Hear a reading of "There's a Certain Slant of Light." Dickinson was born in 1830, and rarely left her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. Experts describe the ambiguity of her writing.
Dickinson's Dash (03:42)
Listen to a youth choir sing "He Fumbles At Your Soul." Wald explains that Dickinson breaks with the formal conventions of poetry.
Deep Uncertainty (01:11)
Nathanial Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson capture an era recovering from the Civil War. Experts share final thoughts on the works of the writers.
Credits: Gothic Undercurrents—American Passages: A Literary Survey (00:58)
Credits: Gothic Undercurrents—American Passages: A Literary Survey
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