Streaming video from Films On Demand: What was haunting the American nation in the 1850s? The three writers treated in this program — Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson — use poetry and prose to explore the dark side of nineteenth-century America. [From American Passages: A Literary Survey]
Streaming Video: Was there evil lurking in the gloomy New England woods the night that young Goodman Brown went on his secret errand? Or did he bring the evil with him, locked within his own heart? This program features an outstanding adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic tale-shot on location in historic Salem-that deftly captures the story's mystery and menace. In addition, a discussion of the life of Hawthorne and the Salem witch trials provides the historical context for this dark gem of American fiction.
Nathaniel Hawthorne remains one of the most widely read and taught of American authors. This Historical Guide collects a number of original essays by Hawthorne scholars that place the author in historical context. Like other volumes in the series, A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorneincludes an introduction, a brief biography, a bibliographical essay, and an illustrated chronology of the author's life and times. Combining cultural criticism with historical scholarship, this volume addresses a wide range of topics relevant to Hawthorne's work, including his relationship toslavery, children, mesmerism, and the visual arts.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), son of itinerant actors, holds a secure place in the firmament of history as America's first master of suspense. Displaying scant interest in native scenes or materials, Edgar Allan Poe seems the most un-American of American writers during the era of literary nationalism; yet he was at the same time a pragmatic magazinist, fully engaged in popular culture and intensely concerned with the "republic of letters" in the United States. This Historical Guide contains an introduction that considers the tensions between Poe's "otherworldly" settings and his historically marked representations of violence, as well as a capsule biography situating Poe in his historical context. The subsequent essays in this book cover such topics as Poe and the American Publishing Industry, Poe's Sensationalism, his relationships to gender constructions, and Poe and American Privacy. The volume also includes a bibliographic essay, a chronology of Poe's life, a bibliography, illustrations, and an index.
Streaming Video: This is Melville's sardonic and symbolic story of a copyist at a Wall Street law firm who refuses to conform, responding to all requests with, "I prefer not to." Autobiographical in its despair over the public's failure to understand the writer, prophetic in its foreshadowing of 20th-Century Absurdism, "Bartleby the Scrivener" provides a window into the work of Melville and a convincing argument that he may be at his best in the short story medium.
Collage of Myself presents a groundbreaking account of the creative story behind America's most celebrated collection of poems. In the first book-length study of Walt Whitman's journals and manuscripts, Matt Miller demonstrates that until approximately 1854 (only a single year before the first publication of Leaves of Grass), Whitman--who once speculated that Leaves would be a novel or a play--was unaware that his ambitions would assume the form of poetry at all. Collage of Myself details Whitman's discovery of a remarkable new creative process that allowed him to transform a diverse array of texts into poems such as "Song of Myself" and "The Sleepers." Whitman embraced an art of fragments that encouraged him to "cut and paste" his lines into ever-evolving forms based on what he called "spinal ideas." This approach to language, Miller argues, represents the first major use in the Western arts of the technique later known as collage, an observation with significant ramifications for our reception of subsequent artists and writers.
One of America's most celebrated women, Emily Dickinson was virtually unpublished in her own time and unknown to the public at large. Today her poetry is commonly anthologized and widely praised for its precision, its intensity, its depth and beauty. Dickinson's life and work, however, remain in important ways mysterious. This collection of essays, all of them previously unpublished, represent the best of contemporary scholarship and points the way toward exciting new directions for the future. The volume includes a biographical essay that covers some of the major turning points in the poet's life, especially those emphasized by her letters.
There is no question that Emerson has maintained his place as one of the seminal figures in American history and literature. In his time, he was the acknowledged leader of the Transcendentalist movement and his poetic legacy, education ideals, and religious concepts are integral to the formation of American intellectual life. In this volume, Joel Myerson, one of the leading experts on this period, has gathered together sparkling new essays that discuss Emerson as a product of his times. Individual chapters provide an extended biographical study of Emerson and his effect on American life, followed by studies of his concept of individualism, nature and natural science, religion, antislavery, and women's rights.
"An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man," Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote--and in this book, the leading scholar of New England literary culture looks at the long shadow Emerson himself has cast, and at his role and significance as a truly American institution.
The ideas and ideals of three American Transcendentalists—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller—initially given expression through The Dial continue to shape the discourse of literature, philosophy, and religion worldwide. This program, hosted by James H. Bride II and divided into eight chapters, traces the origins and defines the concept of Transcendentalism. It also spotlights key landmarks in and around Concord, where the Transcendental movement began, while profiling Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller in depth through readings, interviews, and dramatizations from significant Transcendentalist texts. Scholarly commentary is provided by Richard Baker, Lawrence Buell, Burnham Carter, Philip McFarland, Joan von Mehren, Joel Myerson, Wesley Mott, Robert Richardson Jr., and David Reynolds. Several dramatic passages are reenacted by Jeffrey Hyatt as Thoreau at Walden Pond. Some audio segments are slightly substandard due to limitations at the time of recording. (54 minutes)
Streaming video from Films On Demand: How has slavery shaped the American literary imagination and American identity? This program turns to the classic slave narratives of Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass and the fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe. What rhetorical strategies do their works use to construct an authentic and authoritative American self?
One of the first celebrity authors, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) became famous almost overnight when Uncle Tom's Cabin-which sold more than 300,000 copies in its first year of publication-appeared in 1852. This volume brings together for the first time a range of primary materials about Stowe's private and public life written by family members, friends, and fellow writers who knew or were influenced by her before and after Uncle Tom's Cabin catapulted her to fame.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) and Herman Melville (1819-1891) addressed in their writings a range of issues that continue to resonate in American culture: the reach and limits of democracy; the nature of freedom; the roles of race, gender, and sexuality; and the place of the United States in the world. Yet they are rarely discussed together, perhaps because of their differences in race and social position. Douglass escaped from slavery and tied his well-received nonfiction writing to political activism, becoming a figure of international prominence. Melville was the grandson of Revolutionary War heroes and addressed urgent issues through fiction and poetry, laboring in increasing obscurity. In eighteen original essays, the contributors to this collection explore the convergences and divergences of these two extraordinary literary lives.