Cover

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Contents

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Introduction: Written to the Future

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pp. 1-23

In the winter of 1829, a handful of young women and men on the island of Nantucket began gathering the first Thursday of every month to write the history of the future. Before their meetings, each member of the group composed a short piece of writing. Upon arrival, they deposited their anonymous...

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1. Figures of Print, Orders of Time, and the Character of American Modernity

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pp. 24-62

In the winter of 1829, a handful of young women and men on the island of Nantucket began gathering the first Thursday of every month to write the history of the future. Before their meetings, each member of the group composed a short piece of writing. Upon arrival, they deposited their anonymous...

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2. ‘‘A Magnificent Fragment’’: Dialects of Time and the American Historical Romance

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pp. 63-124

The first half of the nineteenth century saw large numbers of Americans begin the task of writing—and reading—new histories of their young nation. Committed to the endurance of the Republic, emboldened by the patriotic aftermath of the century’s first international wars, and troubled by the entropic energies of the market revolution, legions of writers set about filling...

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3. Local Time: Southwestern Humor and Nineteenth-Century Literary Regionalism

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pp. 125-156

One of the first outbreaks of nostalgia in America has gone largely unreported. From the seventeenth-century onward, European physicians documented viral plagues of this incapacitating disease. According to these doctors, this malady of the soul especially afflicted soldiers, poets, and philosophers. Its European observers thought nostalgia was a social ill worth fighting; they proposed radical treatments that included the burying of soldiers alive. Yet American doctors ‘‘proudly declared that the young nation remained...

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4. The Deprivation of Time in African American Life Writing

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pp. 157-186

The fugitive slave narratives, spiritual autobiographies, and fictionalized biographies of African America faced a double demand. On the one hand, they were expected to detail the dehumanizing realities of slavery and racism. This first requirement explains the genre’s recurring descriptions of blood-clotted whips, shredded flesh, and rape—not to mention segregation,...

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Epilogue: The Spatial Turn and the Scale of Freedom

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pp. 187-199

It has been intriguing to watch the spatial turn barnstorm the academy, but perhaps it is time to ask why the embrace has been so quick and eager. Why is it that the accommodation of old modes of humanistic study to this new one has proceeded so smoothly? What makes it possible for new curricular...

Notes

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pp. 201-227

Bibliography

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pp. 229-239

Index

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pp. 241-249

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 251-252

I am grateful to the many people and several institutions that supported the writing of this book. The Nantucket Historical Association’s (NHA) Verney Fellowship and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities/ Bay State Historical League Scholar-in-Residence Program funded my research....