Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Noble

Second Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman

Third Advisor

Dr. Christopher Kocela


This dissertation relates the lessons of historical materialism to literary production in nineteenth-century America. In an attempt to refocus discussion of social class in this time period, I argue an emphasis on labor is essential to assess the political and economic understanding of authors writing during the reorganization of laboring life of the Market Revolution. I examine American authors from Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln to Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Frederick Douglass whose interests in the aesthetics and politics of labor underlie the foundations of our understanding of class in nineteenth-century American literature.