Abstract

Abstract:

"The 'Nature' of American Literature" explores how John Crowe Ransom and his less-studied contemporary Elizabeth Madox Roberts advanced a theory of literary objects that emerged from nature itself. This theory formed the basis of Ransom's bid, in "Criticism, Inc.," for disciplinary stratification and productivity. Through a set of representational practices this article gathers under the terms "natural reading" and "natural writing," Roberts and Ransom framed valuable aesthetic objects as the product of a carefully cultivated relationship between human observers and landscape. For both, however, this rarified relationship was grounded in and served to reinforce racial hierarchy. Even as the discipline turns away from the cultural elitism associated with New Criticism, Ransom's understanding of the literary object as natural and thus subject to disciplinary study continues to inform contemporary critical practice. This article thus invites engagement with the often submerged racial politics of the ways we constitute objects and processes of disciplinary literary studies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2325-8101
Print ISSN
0041-462X
Pages
pp. 235-268
Launched on MUSE
2021-10-26
Open Access
No
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