Cover

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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

I've been working on the scholarship discussed in this book off and on since I was an undergraduate, so my debts go back a long way. I first read Matthiessen, Lewis, and Lawrence's Studies while studying under C. Roland Wagner, and conversations with him started me in the direction of this project. In the American Studies Program at Indiana...

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Introduction: The History of a Discipline

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pp. 1-22

We usually think of academic disciplines as associated with particular subject matters, defined worlds of objects that academic fields more or less successfully seek to represent as knowledge. Members of the profession and the public at large normally think about "American literature" as the novels, poems, plays, and some special works...

Part I. Beginnings

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1. The Literary in America, 1890–1920

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pp. 25-60

At the turn of the century, American literature was taught only sporadically in universities and colleges (literature itself being a relatively recent addition to the curriculum). The literary culture of the early part of this century was dominated by men of letters, who tended to be not only critics and writers but editors as well. There were stronger connections between journalism and the literary world...

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2. Preprofessional History and Criticism

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pp. 61-95

In 1900, the American literary world was permeated by the sense that an era had recently come to a close. Certainly one of the major interests of Literary Friends and Acquaintance to its contemporary audience was the fact that Howells had managed to meet all of the then-departed literary lions of New England, and had been friends with many of them. The last of the major Boston writers, Oliver Wendell...

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3. English as a Discursive Practice

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pp. 96-120

If the literary was centered outside of the university in the early years of this century, literature was, nevertheless, a growing academic field. The spread of English literature as a subject of instruction at American colleges and universities was extremely rapid. Although Anglo-Saxon had long been taught at Virginia because of Thomas Jefferson's...

Part II. Institutionalization

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4. American Literature as a Discipline: Constituting the Object

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pp. 123-147

The last section is properly understood as the prehistory of my subject, American literature as an academic field. In previous chapters I have described the place and function of the literary in American culture as it changes from a powerful, elite cultural sector to one at first divided against itself by the rise of mass media, and then increasingly..

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5. Institutionalizing American Literature

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pp. 148-190

In chapter 3 we saw how English functioned as a research discipline and observed that both a learned society (MLA) and a central journal (PMLA) were necessary for it to do so. Without such disciplinary apparatus, English could not have held a significant place in the new university. It might have continued to be taught to undergraduates...

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6. American Literature in the Curriculum

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pp. 191-218

The last two chapters have examined the way in which American literature became established as a research discipline. In that discussion, some consideration has been given to graduate training in American literature as a necessary element in creating a field of research. But undergraduate teaching is an important aspect of the institutionalization of American literature as well. It was by means of undergraduate...

Part III. Creating American Civilization

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7. The Triumph of the Aesthetic

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pp. 221-260

The development of the American literature curriculum demonstrates a historical predilection toward an aesthetic conception of literature. Such a conception was already the dominant understanding of literature at the turn of the century, but the residual identification of literature with learning or knowledge remained influential. That...

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8. Left Criticism and the New York Intellectuals

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pp. 261-298

If the right-wing criticism of the 1930s was eventually to radically alter academic practice, the left-wing criticism of the same period would not in itself have much impact on American literature as an academic field. But one branch of the literary left of the 1930s would come to have a significant influence on literature in the academy, and...

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9. Civilization "Discovered"

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pp. 299-344

One goal of the organized study of American literature almost from the founding of the ALG had been to discover what it was that made American literature a single entity, and what it was that distinguished this entity from other national literatures. We have seen that the Americanists' scholarly practice and the assumptions on which it rested prohibited them from attaining these goals. The new hermeneutics...

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Epilogue: A Trailer

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pp. 345-360

If I have told my story well, the reader will be hoping for more. Even if I've not been such a good storyteller, the reader may be frustrated because the story seems to end in the middle. After all, the last major text I've dealt with, The Machine in the Garden, was published in 1964. More important, perhaps, than the simple span of time..

Notes

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pp. 361-390

Index

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pp. 391-408

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About the Author

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pp. 409-409

David Shumway is associate professor of literary and cultural studies at Carnegie...