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Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations

Robin Peel

Publication Year: 2013

This rich and diverse collection of essays explores the literary and ideological cultural exchanges between Britain and New England from 1610 to 1910. The contributors embrace material studies of written and printed texts, performance, the novel, expository writing, and early film. Through intriguingly fresh readings of the work of writers ranging from Anne Bradstreet to Walt Whitman and from John Winthrop, Jr., to Jack London, the book examines the intellectual and aesthetic exchanges produced by transatlantic cultural traffic. The focus and detail of the essays make an important contribution to the ongoing debates about British-American transatlantic literary exchanges, highlighting the conversions, adjustments, and translations in the transnational circulation of culture.

This book will appeal to a broad spectrum of scholars in American, British, and Transatlantic literary studies.

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

Series: New England in the World


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword: Transatlantic Traffic 1610–1910

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pp. vii-xviii

One of the last half-century’s most interesting, and often challenging, developments in the academic humanities is the blurring or erasure of the conventional disciplinary taxonomies and boundaries that arose in the Enlightenment and were consolidated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. ...

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Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xix-xxxviii

This description is imbued with Hawthorne’s characteristic irony, couched in his deceptively comfortable style. Here, the remark provides the reader with several options. The tower might stand for the bedrock of England and the ivy its culture, suggesting an ironic comment on the decline of British vitality, ...

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Prologue: Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic (Mis)Understandings

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pp. 1-20

The dominant nineteenth-century Anglo-American imaginary unfolded from a distinctly skittish to a much more amicable, albeit still guarded, mutuality as the United States rose toward world power status, even as the British Empire neared its own ultimate extension. This essay assesses selected aspects of the cultural history of that unfolding. ...

Part I: Monstrosities and Curiosities

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1. Curiosities of the New World and John Winthrop, Jr.’s, Epistolary Visits to the Royal Society

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pp. 23-44

On February 10, 1670, Winthrop’s curious “stellar” fish, or starfish, was unboxed at a regular meeting of the Royal Society.1 The fish was part of a collection of items that were revealed to the Society’s members that day. It was encased in one of four boxes of curiosities, all of which contained a rich variety of flora and fauna: ...

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2. The Transatlantic Larynx in Wartime: John Gough’s London Voices

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pp. 45-62

The most profound societal and cultural shifts are often audible. Of the many Anglo-American exchanges that energized the period covered by this collection, one of the more notable took place within the throat, through incremental but significant divergence of accent. ...

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3. The Monstrous Transatlantic Witchcraft Narrative: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Lois the Witch

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pp. 63-84

Before she became an established household name, Elizabeth Gaskell published in the journal of her friends Mary and William Howitt under the pseudonym “Cotton Mather Mills.”1 This was, in many ways, an apt choice for Gaskell, cleverly combining a reference to the factories that littered the Lancastrian landscape of her home ...

Part II: Translations, Conversions, and Rewritings

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4. The Reformation of Their Disordered Lives: Portraying Cultural Adaptation in the Seventeenth-century Praying Indian Towns

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pp. 87-112

These words were spoken by Monequassun, a Massachusett Indian man who converted to Christianity during the seventeenth century, and they epitomize the difficulties faced by both New England missionaries and Native American would-be Christians as they tried to understand each other in the period. ...

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5. The Toast of Heroes and Fair Albion’s Son: Jonathan Mitchell Sewell’s Ossianic Versifications

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pp. 113-132

James Macpherson’s Poems of Ossian (1760–63) are today widely recognized (again) as one of the publishing sensations of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Jerome MacGann considers that “Ossian’s influence on the literary scene of the late eighteenth century eclipsed all others.” ...

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6. Walt Whitman and William Blake: The Prophet-Artist and Democratic Thought

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pp. 133-154

In the twentieth century, Walt Whitman and William Blake have been repeatedly yoked together as bards of the people and the prophetic qualities of their verse have been used in the fight against tyranny of all forms. But the myth surrounding Blake and Whitman was developed in the context of an emerging democratic poetic ...

Part III: Transatlantic Traffic and Performances

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7. Prophecy and Geography in Anne Bradstreet’s “Contemplations”: A Transatlantic Reading

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pp. 157-176

Anne Bradstreet has often been cast in the role of America’s first poet, but her verse can seem frustratingly short on American particulars.1 Recent scholarly interests in empire and ecocritical interpretation have converged to reveal the importance of “landscape as a vehicle of prophecy” (Sweet 214) in early American writing, ...

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8. Coloniality, Performance, Translation: The Embodied Public Sphere in Early America

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pp. 177-196

What is left over when the act of linguistic translation is complete? What are translation’s remnants — the bodily remains of translation? These are questions of more than passing concern with regard to American culture, and this is so because American/U.S. culture originates in a scene of colonial encounter. ...

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9. Literature of Attractions: Jack London and Early Moving Images

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pp. 197-220

In 1902, Jack London penned a hurried letter to his lover, Anna Strunsky. It began with an apology: “I had intended to write you a good long letter for yourself, but people have come, must shave now or never and have some toning to do in dark room.”1 The fact that London mentions working in the darkroom alongside routine activities ...

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List of Editors and Contributors

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pp. 221-224

Robin Peel is an Associate Professor and Reader in English in the School of Humanities at the University of Plymouth. Since 2000 his research has focused on the relationship between politics, culture and the work of three American writers, leading to three monographs: ...


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pp. 225-236

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684148
E-ISBN-10: 1611684145
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684247

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: New England in the World
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OCLC Number: 843191622
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Transatlantic Traffic and (Mis)Translations

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- English influences.
  • Comparative literature -- American and English.
  • Comparative literature -- English and American.
  • Literature and history -- New England -- History.
  • Literature and history -- Great Britain -- History.
  • National characteristics, English, in literature.
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