This book refocuses current understandings of American Literature from the revolutionary period to the present-day through an analytical accounting of class, reestablishing a foundation for discussions of class in American culture. American Studies scholars have explored the ways in which American society operates through inequality and modes of social control, focusing primarily on issues of status group identities involving race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability. The essays in this volume focus on both the historically changing experience of class and its continuing hold on American life. The collection visits popular as well as canonical literature, recognizing that class is constructed in and mediated by the affective and the sensational. It analyzes class division, class difference, and class identity in American culture, enabling readers to grasp why class matters, as well as the economic, social, and political matter of class. Redefining the field of American literary cultural studies and asking it to rethink its preoccupation with race and gender as primary determinants of identity, contributors explore the disciplining of the laboring body and of the emotions, the political role of the novel in contesting the limits of class power and authority, and the role of the modern consumer culture in both blurring and sharpening class divisions.