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Exploring the roots of American exceptionalism, Noble demonstrates that it was a doomed ideology. Capitalists who believed in a bounded nationalism also depended on a boundless, international marketplace. This contradiction was inherently unstable, and the belief in a unified national landscape exploded in World War II. The rupture provided an opening for alternative narratives as class, ethnicity, race, and region were reclaimed as part of the nation's history. Noble traces the effects of this shift among scholars and artists, and shows how even today they struggle to imagine an alternative postnational narrative and seek the meaning of local and national cultures in an increasingly transnational world. While Noble illustrates the challenges that the paradigm shift created, he also suggests solutions that will help scholars avoid romanticized and reductive approaches toward the study of American culture in the future.
David W. Noble is professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of numerous books, including The End of American History and The Free and the Unfree: A Progressive History of the United States.
|Foreword: The Unpredictable Creativity of David Noble|
|Introduction: Space Travels|
|1||The Birth and Death of American History||1|
|2||Historians Leaving Home, Killing Fathers||38|
|3||The Crisis of American Literary Criticism from World War I to World War II||79|
|4||Elegies for the National Landscape||106|
|5||The New Literary Criticism: The Death of the Nation Born in New England||129|
|6||The Vanishing National Landscape: Painting, Architecture, Music, and Philosophy in the Early Twentieth Century||151|
|7||The Disintegration of National Boundaries: Literary Criticism in the Late Twentieth Century||215|
|8||The End of American History||250|