“American Imperception” explores how early American writers investigated the role that political economy plays in the relation between sensory perception and knowledge. This dissertation argues that nineteenth-century American writers used literature to teach their readers to understand how economic forms and forms of economic activity fundamentally shape and train the sensorium to sense in historically and contextually specific ways. In “American Imperception,” I show how literature can make legible otherwise insensible forms of social and economic relations. The impossibility of sensing social and economic form—and the way in which that impossibility is rendered through literature—is what I call in this project “imperception.” Imperception describes the way in which literary form makes intelligible the structures of social, political, and economic life: structures that themselves cannot be sensed directly and which therefore cannot be directly represented by literature. “American Imperception” is focused on how literature interacts with social life within a capitalist modernity defined by the value form and the commodity form, and how literature formalizes the structures of social life through a specifically literary logic, transforming them into something that can be read where they cannot be seen, heard, felt, or represented. This dissertation draws on Karl Marx’s thinking on the senses and the suprasensible to consider how U.S. writers of the nineteenth-century mobilized literary form to make thinkable forms of sociality that cannot be contained by the imperceptible nature of sociality under capital. As I show in this dissertation, the political economy of social life determines what can be sensed, just as what can be sensed marks the horizon of political and social possibility.