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Horizons of Enchantment

Essays in the American Imaginary

Lene M. Johannessen

Publication Year: 2011

Horizons of Enchantment is about the peculiar power and exceptional pull of the imaginary in American culture. Johannessen's subject here is the almost mystical American belief in the promise and potential of the individual, or the reliance on a kind of "modern magic" that can loosely be characterized as a fundamental and unwavering faith in the secular sanctity of the American project of modernity. Among the diverse topics and cultural artifacts she examines are the Norwegian American novel A Saloonkeeper's Daughter by Drude Krog Janson, Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, Rodolfo Gonzales's I Am Joaquin, Richard Ford's The Sportwriter, Ana Menendez's In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, essays by Samuel Huntington and Richard Rodriquez, and the 2009 film Sugar, about a Dominican baseball player trying to make it in the big leagues. In both her subject matter and perspective, Johannessen reconfigures and enriches questions of the transnational and exceptional in American studies.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Series: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies

Title Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

The aptly termed “transnational turn” has resulted in the most significant reconfiguration of American Studies since its inception. Transnational American Studies grew out of the conceptual transformation generated by a newly globalized world order and therefore demands an understanding of America’s embeddedness ...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

The chapters in this book may be considered field trips in the varied and conglomerated area that is American literature, or, if you like, excursions in literary and cultural archaeology. Each one has something to say about its particular subject as it is constituted by and constitutive of its own moment of origination ...

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pp. 1-12

A few years ago I was on a yearlong sabbatical in California. When it was time to pack up and return to Norway we had a yard sale, a wonderful institution possible only through a combination of pleasant temperatures and plenty of space. An elderly couple strolled by, and the man came up, not to buy anything ...

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[1] The Imaginary

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pp. 13-32

To introduce the more strictly methodological concerns of this chapter, I want to briefly consider Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s baseball film Sugar (2008).1 Its engagement with the religious metaphoricity of the game itself, ambivalence of purpose, frustration, and, ultimately, questions of interpreting the signs of magic, ...

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[2] “Perpetual Progress” in Drude Krog Janson’s A Saloon Keeper’s Daughter

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pp. 33-51

Drude Krog Janson’s novel A Saloonkeeper’s Daughter was originally published in Minneapolis in 1887 with a similar-sounding title in Norwegian, En Saloonkeepers Datter.1 The story of protagonist Astrid Holm’s journey from Norway to late nineteenth-century America, moving from adolescence to adulthood ...

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[3] Songs of Different Selves: Whitman and Gonzales

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pp. 52-77

Social imaginaries carry particular expectations to their participants. These are disseminated in various ways, commonly through customs and traditions, which teach members the necessary enabled and enabling filters. Founding cultural documents are among the pillars of such traditions, including literary canons ...

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[4] The “Long Empty Moment”: Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter

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pp. 78-96

In Charles Taylor’s exposition, one of the main characteristics of the modern social imaginary is its severance from significations and practices grounded in religious time or origins, what he calls a “time out of mind.” He remarks that “Modernity is secular, not in the frequent, rather loose sense of the word, where it designates ...

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[5] “Relations Stretched Out” in the American Imaginary

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pp. 97-124

Doreen Massey’s observation that “The spatial is social relations stretched out” sounds simple, yet when we stop to think through what those words actually mean, the statement presents phenomenal complexities. In light of the remark, the truism that America is a nation of immigrants takes on a more convoluted ...

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[6] Recalling America: Huntington and Rodriguez

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pp. 125-140

We have seen that the concept of the imaginary is a tool for gauging how various participants relate to, contest, and always, in some form or another, disseminate the tenets and currents that sustain the imaginary’s flexible function as enabling filter. This is nowhere more evident than in the oscillation between what, ...


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pp. 141-154


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pp. 155-162


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pp. 163-166

E-ISBN-13: 9781611680133
E-ISBN-10: 1611680131

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies

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