A Companion to American Fiction, 1780-1865 / Edition 1

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This Companion presents the current state of criticism in the field of American fiction from the earliest declarations of nationhood to secession and civil war.

  • Draws heavily on historical and cultural contexts in its consideration of American fiction
  • Relates the fiction of the period to conflicts about territory and sovereignty and to issues of gender, race, ethnicity and identity
  • Covers different forms of fiction, including children’s literature, sketches, polemical pieces, historical romances, Gothic novels and novels of exploration
  • Considers both canonical and lesser-known authors, including James Fennimore Cooper, Hannah Foster, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Treats neglected topics, such as the Western novel, science and the novel, and American fiction in languages other than English
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Particularly impressive... Taken together the essays constitute a dense realization of a critically resurgent period, with the historical dimension emphatic throughout."
American Literary Scholarship

"A good resource for those just embarking on the study of American literature. Recommended."

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Shirley Samuels is Professor of English and American Studies at Cornell University. She is the author of Romances of the Republic (1996) and Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War (2004), and the editor of The Culture of Sentiment (1992). She is also currently the section editor of “American Literature before 1865” for the Blackwell online www.literature-compass.com.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Notes on Contributors ix

Acknowledgments xvi

Introduction 1
Shirley Samuels

PART I Historical and Cultural Contexts 5

1 National Narrative and the Problem of American Nationhood 7
J. Gerald Kennedy

2 Fiction and Democracy 20
Paul Downes

3 Democratic Fictions 31
Sandra M. Gustafson

4 Engendering American Fictions 40
Martha J. Cutter and Caroline F. Levander

5 Race and Ethnicity 52
Robert S. Levine

6 Class 64
Philip Gould

7 Sexualities 75
Valerie Rohy

8 Religion 87
Paul Gutjahr

9 Education and Polemic 97
Stephanie Foote

10 Marriage and Contract 108
Naomi Morgenstern

11 Transatlantic Ventures 119
Wil Verhoeven and Stephen Shapiro

12 Other Languages, Other Americas 131
Kirsten Silva Gruesz

PART II Forms of Fiction 145

13 Literary Histories 147
Michael Drexler and Ed White

14 Breeding and Reading: Chesterfieldian Civility in the Early Republic 158
Christopher Lukasik

15 The American Gothic 168
Marianne Noble

16 Sensational Fiction 179
Shelley Streeby

17 Melodrama and American Fiction 191
Lori Merish

18 Delicate Boundaries: Passing and Other ‘‘Crossings’’ in Fictionalized Slave Narratives 204
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

19 Doctors, Bodies, and Fiction 216
Stephanie P. Browner

20 Law and the American Novel 228
Laura H. Korobkin

21 Labor and Fiction 239
Cindy Weinstein

22 Words for Children 249
Carol J. Singley

23 Dime Novels 262
Colin T. Ramsey and Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola

24 Reform and Antebellum Fiction 274
Chris Castiglia

PART III Authors, Locations, Purposes 285

25 The Problem of the City 287
Heather Roberts

26 New Landscapes 301
Timothy Sweet

27 The Gothic Meets Sensation: Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard, and E. D. E. N. Southworth 314
Dana Luciano

28 Retold Legends: Washington Irving, James Kirke Paulding, and John Pendleton Kennedy 330
Philip Barnard

29 Captivity and Freedom: Ann Eliza Bleecker, Harriet Prescott Spofford, and Washington Irving’s ‘‘Rip Van Winkle’’ 342
Eric Gary Anderson

30 New England Tales: Catharine Sedgwick, Catherine Brown, and the Dislocations of Indian Land 353
Bethany Schneider

31 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Caroline Lee Hentz, Herman Melville, and American Racialist Exceptionalism 365
Katherine Adams

32 Fictions of the South: Southern Portraits of Slavery 378
Nancy Buffington

33 The West 388
Edward Watts

34 The Old Southwest: Mike Fink, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, Johnson Jones Hooper, and George Washington Harris 400
David Rachels

35 James Fenimore Cooper and the Invention of the American Novel 411
Wayne Franklin

36 The Sea: Herman Melville and Moby-Dick 425
Stephanie A. Smith

37 National Narrative and National History 434
Russ Castronovo

Index 445

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