History of American Literature / Edition 1

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This major new history of American literature from pre-Columbian times to the present is written in an informed but accessible style by one of the leading authorities in the field.
  • A major new one-volume history of American literature from pre-Columbian times to the present.
  • Extremely broad-ranging, taking in Native American, Anglo American, African American, Asian American and Hispanic American literature.
  • Covers oral literature, folktales, spirituals, the blues, the western, the detective story, the thriller and science fiction, as well as canonical literature.
  • Relates the history of American literature to American social and cultural history.
  • Takes account of changes in critical and theoretical debates about literature in the last 30 years.
  • Written by a leading international authority on American literature.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Richard Gray's real achievement is somehow to have compressed more than 400 years of thrillingly rich literary history between two covers." Literary Review

"Highly readable, jargon-free, and engaging." American Literary Scholarship

“This book is the first comprehensive, single volume history of American literature since The Columbia Literary History of the United States edited by Elliott Emory and published sixteen years ago. It is a puzzle, given the extraordinary interest in American literature at home and abroad, that so few full histories of American literature have been published. Consider the fact that the Columbia history arrived nearly four decades after R. E. Spiller’s Literary History of the United States. What makes Gray’s book so extraordinary is that it supercedes the Spiller and Emory texts in nearly every respect, and even challenges the supremacy of the titanic (this pun is intentional), multi-volume, still-evolving Cambridge History of American Literature. How Gray managed to so captivatingly capture the depth and breadth of so complex a literature in under a thousand pages is worth considering. […] Richard Gray possesses the most balanced scholarship of the entire range of American literature I ever read. […] This is the first history of American literature fully worthy of the multi-dimensionality of its subject.” Norman Weinstein, Boise State University

Library Journal
In this scholarly but accessible history of American literature, subject specialist Gray (Univ. of Essex) covers the entire range of periods and genres, beginning with Native American oral traditions and progressing to today's postmodern, multicultural, and multidimensional literature. Like previous authors, Gray examines mainstream poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction, along with the major authors associated with these genres. But he doesn't stop there: he also delves into folktales, spirituals, Westerns, detective stories, and science fiction, to name a few, placing each in the context of American social and cultural history. In addition, Gray takes a close look at more recent developments and the many forces shaping American literature today. Divided into sections that allow readers to concentrate on particular topics, this excellent study is relatively easy to move through. While it is ideal for classroom use, it is also suitable for general readers. Though many histories of American literature exist, this one is especially welcome for the breadth of its coverage. Highly recommended for all collections. Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ. Lib., Manhattan, KS Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631221357
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/15/2004
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 912
  • Sales rank: 1,501,326
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Gray is Professor of American Literature at the University of Essex. Generally regarded as the leading European scholar in American literature, he is the first specialist in American literature to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy. His recent publications include Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region (1997), The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography (Blackwell Publishing, 1994) and Southern Aberrations: Writers of the American South and the Problems of Regionalism (2000). With Owen Robinson, he has also edited A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American South (Blackwell Publishing, 2004).
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Table of Contents

PART I: The First Americans: American Literature Before And During The Colonial And Revolutionary Periods:.

1. Imagining Eden.

2. Native American Oral Traditions.

3. Spanish And French Encounters With America.

4. Anglo-American Encounters.

5. Writing Of The Colonial And Revolutionary Periods:.

Puritan narratives.

Challenges to the Puritan oligarchy.

Some Colonial poetry.

Enemies within and without.

Trends towards the secular and resistance.

Towards the Revolution.

Alternative voices of Revolution.

Writing Revolution: Poetry, drama, fiction.

PART II: Inventing Americas: The Making Of American Literature 1800-1865:.

6. Making a Nation.

7. The Making Of American Myths:.

Myths of an emerging nation.

The making of Western myth.

The making of Southern myth.

Legends of the Old Southwest.

8. The Making Of American Selves:.

The Transcendentalists.

Voices of African American identity.

9. The Making Of Many Americas:.

Native American writing.

Oral culture of the Hispanic Southwest.

African American polemic and poetry.

Abolitionist and pro-slavery writing.

Abolitionism and feminism.

African American writing.

9. The Making Of American Fiction And Poetry:.

The emergence of American narratives.

Women writers and storytellers.

Spirituals and folk songs.

American poetic voices.

PART III: Reconstructing The Past, Reimagining The Future: The Development Of American Literature 1865-1900:.

10. Rebuilding a Nation.

11. The Development Of Literary Regionalisms:.

From Adam to outsider.

Regionalism in the West and Midwest.

African American and Native American voices.

Regionalism in New England.

Regionalism in the South.

12. The Development Of Literary Realism And Naturalism:.

Capturing the commonplace.

Capturing the real thing.

Towards naturalism.

13. The Development Of Women’s Writing:.

Writing by African American women.

Writing and the condition of women.

14. The Development Of Many Americas:.

Things fall apart.

Voices of resistance.

Voices of reform.

The immigrant encounter.

PART IV: Making It New: The Emergence Of Modern American Literature 1900-1945:.

15. Changing National Identities.

16. Between Victorianism And Modernism:.

The problem of race.

Building bridges: Women writers.

Critiques of American provincial life.

Poetry and the search for form.

17. The Inventions Of Modernism:.

Imagism, Vorticism and Objectivism.

Making it new in poetry.

Making it new in prose.

Making it new in drama.

18. Traditionalism, Politics And Prophecy:.

The uses of traditionalism.

Populism and radicalism.

Prophetic voices.

19. Community and Identity:.

Immigrant writing.

Native American voices.

The literature of the New Negro movement and beyond.

20. Mass Culture And The Writer:.

Western, detective and hardboiled fiction.

Humorous writing.

Fiction and popular culture.

PART V: Negotiating The American Century: American Literature Since 1945:.

21. Towards a Transnational Nation.

22. Formalists And Confessionals:.

From the mythological eye to the lonely 'I' in poetry.

From formalism to freedom in poetry.

The uses of formalism.

Confessional poetry.

New formalists, new confessionals.

23. Public and Private Histories:.

Documentary and dream in prose.

Contested identities in prose.

Crossing borders: Some women prose writers.

24. Beats, Prophets And Aesthetes:.

Rediscovering the American voice: The BlackMountain writers.

Restoring the American vision: The San Francisco renaissance.

Recreating American rhythms: The beat generation.

Reinventing the American self: The New York poets.

Resisting orthodoxy: Dissent and experiment in fiction.

25. The Art And Politics Of Race:.

Defining a new black aesthetic.

Defining a new black identity in prose.

Defining a new black identity in drama.

Telling impossible stories: Recent African American fiction.

26. Realism And Its Discontents:.

Confronting the real, stretching the realistic in drama.

New Journalists and dirty realists.

27. Language And Genre.

Watching nothing: Postmodernity in prose.

The actuality of words: Postmodern poetry.

Signs and scenes of crime, science fiction and fantasy.

28. Creating New Americas:.

Dreaming history: European immigrant writing.

Remapping a nation: Chicano/a and Latino/a writing.

Improvising America: Asian American writing.

New and ancient songs: The return of the Native American.

Further Reading.


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