This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book analyzes the cultural and psychological functions of slave songs and lullabies, adding not only to scholarship on Jacobs but also on slave songs with a specific focus on children and gender. It argues that Fuller Victor’s "sentimental narrator mediates, under the command of a strategic author, the concern with the systematic abuse of women and children in America’s genteel class." The book examines both women’s respective paths to more prominent positions in the nineteenth-century literary marketplace. It suggests that the figure of the Victorian gentleman, especially when defined ‘beautiful,’ results in gender instability, which in turn highlights Anna Katharine Green’s unconventional rendering of male relationships. Periodization proves equally problematic, and although the majority of the texts analyzed in this collection may be considered representative of social realism, at the same time, most of them overlap with other categorizations.