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American Literature, American Culture

Gordon Hutner

Publication Date - October 1998

ISBN: 9780195085211

624 pages
6-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $164.99


American Literature, American Culture is the first comprehensive anthology of American literary criticism to appear in many years and the first collection to bring together the tradition of American literary criticism as cultural critique. This unique anthology assembles reviews of early works, major critical essays, excerpts from landmark studies, and the most influential examples of the criticism practiced today. The selections address the dominant questions in the American literary tradition: What are the cultural responsibilities of the American writer? What are the characteristics of a national literature? Is a national literature even possible? How do gender and race affect the way we understand literature? What role does literature play in a democratic society? Organized chronologically, the four sections of the volume gather the most vital and enduring arguments in American literary and cultural politics in each era, covering such prominent issues as American exceptionalism, the racial divide, gender, and class identity. The book pays particular attention to the historical background of contemporary debates about multiculturalism.
American Literature, American Culture is ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature, criticism, and American Studies. It also serves as a useful supplementary text in upper-level courses in criticism. Its range proves that at every juncture of the nation's intellectual history, criticism has provided an indispensable way of determining America's most fundamental meanings.

Table of Contents

    1. St. Jean de Crevecoeur, "What Is an American?"
    2. Toward a Definition of American Literature (selections):
    Charles Brockden Brown, "To the Public"
    William Tudor, Excerpt from North American Review
    James Kirk Paulding, "National Literature"
    Edgar Allan Poe, "Marginalia"
    William Gilmore Simms, "Americanism in Literature"
    3. Margaret Fuller, "American Literature"
    4. Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar"
    5. Cornelius Mathews, "Nationality in Literature"
    6. Theodore Parker, "The American Scholar"
    7. Nathaniel Hawthorne, prefaces to The House of the Seven Gables, Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun
    8. Herman Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses"
    9. Frederick Douglass, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro"
    10. Mary E. Bryan, "How Should Women Write?"
    11. Walt Whitman, "Democratic Vistas"
    12. Henry James, From "Hawthorne"
    13. William Dean Howells, From Criticism and Fiction
    14. Mark Twain, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences"
    15. The Great American Novel (selections):
    William De Forest, "The Great American Novel"
    Thomas S. Perry, "American Novels"
    Robert Herrick, "The American Novel"
    Edith Wharton, "The Great American Novel"
    1. W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Sorrow Songs"
    2. Gertrude Atherton, "Why Is American Literature Bourgeois?"
    3. George Santayana, "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy"
    4. Van Wyck Brooks, "On Creating a Usable Past"
    5. Irving Babbitt, "The Critic and American Life"
    6. H.L. Mencken, "The American Novel"
    7. Alain Locke, "The New Negro"
    8. Mike Gold, "Proletarian Realism"
    9. John Crowe Ransom, "Reconstructed but Unregenerate"
    10. Constance Rourke, from American Humor
    11. Zora Neale Hurston, "Charactersitics of Negro Expression"
    12. Kenneth Burke, "Literature as Equipment for Living"
    13. J. Saunders Redding, "The Forerunners"
    14. Philip Rahv, "The Cult of Experience in American Writing"
    15. R.P. Blackmur, "The Economy of the American Writer"
    III. POSTWAR ERA, 1945-1970
    1. F.O. Matthiessen, "The Responsibilities of the Critic"
    2. Leslie Fiedler, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!"
    3. Lionel Trilling, "Reality in America"
    4. Ralph Ellison, "Richard Wright's Blues"
    5. James Baldwin, "Everybody's Protest Novel"
    6. T.S. Eliot, "American Liteature and the American Language"
    7. Henry Nash Smith, "The Myth of the Garden and Turner's Frontier Hypothesis"
    8. Perry Miller, "Errance into the Wilderness"
    9. Americo Paredes, "The Hero's Progress"
    10. Edmund Wilson, "Harriet Beecher Stowe"
    11. Dwight MacDonald, "Masscult and Midcult"
    12. Alfred Kazin, "The Jew as Modern American Writer"
    13. Adrienne Rich, "Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson"
    IV. CONTEMPORARIES, 1970-1998
    1. Nina Baym, "Melodramas of Beset Manhood: How Theories of American Fiction Exclude Women Authors"
    2. William Boelhower, "A Modest Ethnic Proposal"
    3. Jane Tompkins, "'But Is It Any Good?': The Institutionalization of Literary Value"
    4. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "Writing, 'Race,' and the Difference It Makes"
    5. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "The Beast in the Closet: James and the Writing of Homosexual Panic"
    6. Hortense J. Spillers, "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book"
    7. Sacvan Bercovitch, "Hawthorne's A-Morality of Compromise"
    8. Toni Morrison, "Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature"
    9. Walter Benn Michaels, "The Vanishing American"
    10. Fredric Jameson, "The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"
    11. Gloria Anzaldua, "How to Tame a Wild Tongue"
    12. Lawrence Buell, "American Literary Emergence as a Postcolonial Phenomenon"