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The American Essay in the American Century Cover

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The American Essay in the American Century

Ned Stuckey-French

 

       In modern culture, the essay is often considered an old-fashioned, unoriginal form of literary styling. The word essay brings to mind the uninspired five-paragraph theme taught in schools around the country or the antiquated, Edwardian meanderings of English gentlemen rattling on about art and old books. These connotations exist despite the fact that Americans have been reading and enjoying personal essays in popular magazines for decades, engaging with a multitude of ideas through this short-form means of expression.

 

 

 
To defend the essay—that misunderstood staple of first-year composition courses—Ned Stuckey-French has written The American Essay in the American Century. This book uncovers the buried history of the American personal essay and reveals how it played a significant role in twentieth-century cultural history.

 

 

 
In the early 1900s, writers and critics debated the “death of the essay,” claiming it was too traditional to survive the era’s growing commercialism, labeling it a bastion of British upper-class conventions. Yet in that period, the essay blossomed into a cultural force as a new group of writers composed essays that responded to the concerns of America’s expanding cosmopolitan readership. These essays would spark the “magazine revolution,” giving a fresh voice to the ascendant middle class of the young century.

 

 

 
With extensive research and a cultural context, Stuckey-French describes the many reasons essays grew in appeal and importance for Americans. He also explores the rise of E. B. White, considered by many the greatest American essayist of the first half of the twentieth century whose prowess was overshadowed by his success in other fields of writing. White’s work introduced a new voice, creating an American essay that melded seriousness and political resolve with humor and self-deprecation. This book is one of the first to consider and reflect on the contributions of E. B. White to the personal essay tradition and American culture more generally.

 

 

 
The American Essay in the American Century is a compelling, highly readable book that illuminates the history of a secretly beloved literary genre. A work that will appeal to fiction readers, scholars, and students alike, this book offers fundamental insight into modern American literary history and the intersections of literature, culture, and class through the personal essay. This thoroughly researched volume dismisses, once and for all, the “death of the essay,” proving that the essay will remain relevant for a very long time to come.

American Georgics Cover

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American Georgics

Economy and Environment in American Literature, 1580-1864

By Timothy Sweet

In classical terms the georgic celebrates the working landscape, cultivated to become fruitful and prosperous, in contrast to the idealized or fanciful landscapes of the pastoral. Arguing that economic considerations must become central to any understanding of the human community's engagement with the natural environment, Timothy Sweet identifies a distinct literary mode he calls the American georgic.

Offering a fresh approach to ecocritical and environmentally-oriented literary studies, Sweet traces the history of the American georgic from its origins in late sixteenth-century English literature promoting the colonization of the Americas through the mid-nineteenth century, ending with George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature (1864), the foundational text in the conservationist movement.

American Ghost Roses Cover

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American Ghost Roses

Kevin Stein

In his first book as the poet laureate of Illinois, Kevin Stein shoulders an array of poetic forms, blending pathos, humor, and social commentary. These poems--ranging from meditative narratives to improvisational lyrics--explore art's capacity to embody as well as express contemporary culture. Stein embraces subjects as various as his father's death, magazine sex surveys, Kandinsky's theory of art, the dangling modifier, Jimi Hendrix's flaming guitar, racial bigotry, and a teacher's comments on a botched poem. Presiding over this miscellany are ghosts of a peculiarly American garden of dreamers and beloved misfits, those redeemed and those left fingering the locked gate._x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B_

American Gothic Cover

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American Gothic

New Interventions in a National Narrative

Drawing widely on contemporary theory—particularly revisionist views of Freud such as those offered by Lacan and Kristeva—this volume ranges from the well-known Gothic horrors of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne to the popular fantasies of Stephen King and the postmodern visions of Kathy Acker. Special attention is paid to the issues of slavery and race in both black and white texts, including those by Ralph Ellison and William Faulkner. In the view of the editors and contributors, the Gothic is not so much a historical category as a mode of thought haunted by history, a part of suburban life and the lifeblood of films such as The Exorcist and Fatal Attraction.

The American H.D. Cover

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The American H.D.

Annette Debo

In The American H.D., Annette Debo considers the significance of nation in the artistic vision and life of the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle. Her versatile career stretching from 1906 to 1961, H.D. was a major American writer who spent her adult life abroad; a poet and translator who also wrote experimental novels, short stories, essays, reviews, and a children’s book; a white writer with ties to the Harlem Renaissance; an intellectual who collaborated on avant-garde films and film criticism; and an upper-middle-class woman who refused to follow gender conventions. Her wide-ranging career thus embodies an expansive narrative about the relationship of modernism to the United States and the nuances of the American nation from the Gilded Age to the Cold War.

 

Making extensive use of material in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale—including correspondences, unpublished autobiographical writings, family papers, photographs, and Professor Norman Holmes Pearson’s notes for a planned biography of H.D.—Debo’s American H.D. reveals details about its subject never before published. Adroitly weaving together literary criticism, biography, and cultural history, The American H.D. tells a new story about the significance of this important writer.

 

Written with clarity and sincere affection for its subject, The American H.D. brings together a sophisticated understanding of modernism, the poetry and prose of H.D., the personalities of her era, and the historical and cultural context in which they developed: America’s emergence as a dominant economic and political power that was riven by racial and social inequities at home.

 

American Iconographic Cover

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American Iconographic

National Geographic, Global Culture, and the Visual Imagination

Tracing the National Geographic's rise to prominence during the first half of the 20th c., Stephanie Hawkins argues that far from being merely a handbook of Western imperialism or a venue for exotic display, the magazine created a forum for the negotiation of changing attitudes toward national identity, cultural diversity, and global interconnectedness. Its readers responded in complex ways to the magazine's iconic public image and were not at all the passive spectators they have been assumed to be.

American Jeremiad Cover

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American Jeremiad

Sacvan Bercovitch

"This is a dazzling performance. It supplies conceptual links between phenomena where historians have often sensed a connection without being able to describe it adequately. . . [Bercovitch] has written intellectual history at the highest level."—Edmund S. Morgan, New York Review of Books

The American Jeremiad Cover

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The American Jeremiad

Sacvan Bercovitch

When Sacvan Bercovitch’s The American Jeremiad first appeared in 1978, it was hailed as a landmark study of dissent and cultural formation in America, from the Puritans’ writings through the major literary works of the antebellum era. For this long-awaited anniversary edition, Bercovitch has written a deeply thoughtful and challenging new preface that reflects on his classic study of the role of the political sermon, or jeremiad, in America from a contemporary perspective, while assessing developments in the field of American studies and the culture at large.

American Jewish Fiction Cover

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American Jewish Fiction

A JPS Guide

Authored by Josh Lambert

This new volume in the JPS Guides series is a fiction reader’s dream: a guide to 125 remarkable works of fiction. The selection includes a wide range of classic American Jewish novels and story collections, from 1867 to the present, selected by the author in consultation with a panel of literary scholars and book industry professionals. Roth, Mailer, Kellerman, Chabon, Ozick, Heller, and dozens of other celebrated writers are here, with their most notable works. Each entry includes a book summary, with historical context and background on the author. Suggestions for further reading point to other books that match readers’ interests and favorite writers. And the introduction is a fascinating exploration of the history of and important themes in American Jewish Fiction, illustrating how Jewish writing in the U.S. has been in constant dialogue with popular entertainment and intellectual life. Included in this guide are lists of book award winners; recommended anthologies; title, author, and subject indexes; and more.

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American Journal of Philology

Vol. 117 (1996) through current issue

Since its founding in 1880 by Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, the American Journal of Philology has helped to shape American classical scholarship. Today the Journal has achieved worldwide recognition as a forum for international exchange among classicists and philologists by publishing original research in Greek and Roman literature; classical linguistics; and Greek and Roman history, society, religion, and philosophy. In-depth coverage and a substantial book review section are featured in every issue. AJP is open to a wide variety of contemporary approaches including literary interpretation and history, textual criticism, historical investigation, and epigraphy.

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