Fiercely nationalistic in their espousal of independence and, later, their critique of democracys shortcomings and faith in their newfound nations potential, the first prominent American writers exhibited a profound pride in the territory that would come to be known as the United States. Predating even the Declaration of Independence, much early American writing entailed commentary on the newly developing American society. As it evolved from political to literary in nature, American writing increasingly began to distinguish itself on the world stage. This volume examines the literature of the country in its nascence and writers such as Poe, Hawthorne, and Emerson, who helped cultivate a uniquely American voice.
Environmental Awareness and the Design of Literature offers analyses of the diverse ways in which literature helps us escape the rigid frames of commonly assumed worldviews and modes of seeing. Literary works are endowed with a capacity not only to reflect or to mediate, but to resist our environment, and thus to affect and transform our relation to the physical world. Each essay points to the way literature shapes the human perception of environment as intellectual adventures and forays that draw upon a number of historical, aesthetic, philosophical and phenomenological stances.
This book examines the close relationship between the portrayal of foreigners and the delineation of culture and identity in antebellum American writing. Both literary and historical in its approach, this study shows how, in a period marked by extensive immigration, heated debates on national and racial traits, during a flowering in American letters, encouraged responses from American authors to outsiders that not only contain precious insights into nineteenth-century America's self-construction but also serve to illuminate our own time's multicultural societies. The authors under consideration are alternately canonical (Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville), recently rediscovered (Kirkland), or simply neglected (Arthur). The texts analyzed cover such different genres as diaries, letters, newspapers, manuals, novels, stories, and poems.
In The Pragmatist Turn, renowned scholar of American literature and thought Giles Gunn offers a new critical history of the way seventeenth-century religion and the eighteenth-century Enlightenment influenced the formation of subsequent American writing. This shaping was dependent on their pragmatic refiguration less as systems of belief and thought than as frames of reflection and structures of feeling, what he calls spiritual imaginaries.Drawing on a large number of figures from earlier periods and examining how they influenced generations of writers from the nineteenth century into the early twenty-first --including Henry Adams, Frederick Douglass, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, William James, Henry James, Kenneth Burke, and Toni Morrison--Gunn reveals how the idea or symbolic imaginary of "America" itself was drastically altered in the process. As only a seasoned scholar can, Gunn here presents the history of American religion and literature in broad strokes necessary to reveal the seismic philosophical shifts that helped form the American canon.