This volume covers a pivotal era in the formation of American identity. Four leading scholars connect the literature with the massive historical changes then underway. Richard Brodhead describes the foundation of a permanent literary culture in America. Nancy Bentley locates the origins of nineteenth century Realism in an elite culture's responses to an emergent mass culture, embracing high literature (writers like William Dean Howells and Henry James) as well as a wide spectrum of cultural outsiders: African Americans, women, and Native Americans. Walter Benn Michaels emphasizes the critical role that turn-of-the-century fiction played in the re-evaluation of the individual at the advent of modern bureaucracy. Susan L. Mizruchi analyzes the literary responses to a new national heterogeneity that helped shape the multicultural future of modern America. Together, these narratives constitute the richest, most detailed account to date of American literature and culture between 1860 and 1920.
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Sacvan Bercovitch is Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature at Harvard University.
Introduction Sacvan Bercovitch; Part I. The American Literary Field, 1860-1890 Richard H. Brodhead: 1. Cultures of letters; 2. After the American Renaissance; 3. Domestic literary culture; 4. Books for the millions; 5. Onstage; 6. Literary high culture; 7. Out of the center; 8. A case study: literary regionalism; 9. Regional writing and the role of the author; Part II. Literary Forms and Mass Culture, 1870-1920 Nancy Bentley: 1. Museum realism; 2. Howells, James, and the aesthetic republic; 3. Women and realist authorship; 4. Chesnutt and imperial spectacle; 5. Wharton, travel, and modernity; 6. Adams, James, DuBois, and social thought; Part III. Promises of American Life, 1880-1920 Walter Benn Michaels: 1. An American tragedy, or the promise of American life; 2. The production of visibility; 3. The contracted heart; 4. Success; Part IV. Becoming Multicultural: Culture, Economy, and the Novel, 1860-1920 Susan L. Mizruchi: 1. Introduction; 2. Remembering civil war; 3. Social death and the reconstruction of slavery; 4. Cosmopolitan variations; 5. Native American sacrifice in an age of progress; 6. Marketing culture; 7. Varieties of work; 8. Corporate America; 9. Realist utopias; Chronology; Bibliography.
'... this is, without doubt and without any serious rival, the scholarly history of our generation.' Journal of American Studies '... vast and eminently readable survey of twentieth century American literature ...'. Use of English
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