10. George Lippard and the Rise of the Urban Gothic

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Chad Luck

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch10

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Luck, C. (2013) George Lippard and the Rise of the Urban Gothic, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch10

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • urban gothic;
  • sensationalism;
  • city-mystery;
  • George Lippard;
  • antebellum America;
  • American gothic;
  • urban space;
  • urban exposé;
  • nineteenth-century;
  • proximity


The genre of urban gothic literature emerged in America over the first half of the nineteenth century. Characterized by sensational descriptions of the crowded, crime-ridden antebellum city, these novels gave voice to widespread American anxieties about the accelerating pace of urban life. In particular, the urban gothic reflected concerns about the oppressive proximity and heterogeneity of the new urban cityscape. Crime, disease, and depravity of all sorts seemed closer, more multifarious, and more insistent, than ever before. By adapting the conventions of the older rural gothic, writers of this new sensational genre were able to both express and amplify these burgeoning anxieties about urban space and urban vice. Beginning with the writings of Charles Brockden Brown, the urban gothic mode reached its antebellum apotheosis with George Lippard, a labor radical who yoked gothic sensationalism to a sustained social critique of economic inequality.