Ideology and Classic American Literature

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Overview

This volume of essays brings together some of the best work by Americanists concerned with the problem of ideology and its bearing upon American literature and culture. It projects neither a particular ideological view nor a particular view of ideology. On the contrary: these essays highlight the many uses of ideology as a critical term, and, in doing so, they open fresh avenues of inquiry and forums for discussion. They also demonstrate that, far from being parochial or reductive, ideological analysis is integral to considerations of formal structure and crucial to an understanding of the relations between literature and culture. Their essays deal variously with theoretical issues, with questions of theme, genre, and perspective, and with interpretations of particular authors and texts. The editors of the volume provide a general introduction to the nature and development of ideological critique, and an afterword that discusses the coherence of the volume as a whole and its implications for further study.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: beyond transcendence Myra Jehlen; Part I. Reassessments: 2. Symbol and idea in Virgin Land Henry Nash Smith; 3. Pastoralism in America Leo Marx; 4. Myth and the production of history Richard Slotkin; 5. American criticism left and right Gerald Graff; Part II. Perspectives: 6. The novel and the middle class in America Myra Jehlen; 7. Figurations for a new American literary history Houston A. Baker, Jr.; 8. American studies as a cultural program Alan Trachtenberg; 9. Reification and American literature Carolyn Porter; Part III. Texts: 10. Mysteries of the city: a reading of Poe's The Man of the Crowd Robert H. Byer; 11. The politics of The Scarlet Letter Jonathan Arac; 12. Sentimental power: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the politics of literary history Jane Tompkins; 13. Walden and the 'curse of trade' Michael T. Gilmore; Part IV. The Example of Melville: 14. Melville's economy of language Paul Royster; 15. Art, religion, and the problem of authority in Pierre Emory Elliott; 16. The hive of subtlety: 'Benito Cereno' and the liberal hero James H. Kavanagh; 17. Melville and cultural persuasion Donald E. Pease; 18. Afterword Sacvan Bercovitch; Selected bibliography; Index.

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