New England Literary Culture: From the Revolution to the Renaissance

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This book is a study of the development of New England literature and literary institutions from the American Revolutionary era to the late nineteenth century. Professor Buell explores the foundations, growth and literary results of the professionalization of the writing vocation. He pays particular attention to the major writers - Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Stowe and Dickinson - but surveys them with a number of lesser-known authors, and explores the conventions, values and institutions which affected them ...

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Overview

This book is a study of the development of New England literature and literary institutions from the American Revolutionary era to the late nineteenth century. Professor Buell explores the foundations, growth and literary results of the professionalization of the writing vocation. He pays particular attention to the major writers - Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Stowe and Dickinson - but surveys them with a number of lesser-known authors, and explores the conventions, values and institutions which affected them all. Some of the main topics covered include the distinctive features of the Early National and Antebellum periods in New England writing; the importance of certain literary genres (poetry, oratory and religious narrative; etc.); the impact of Puritanism and its values; and the invention of acceptable conventions for portraying the New England landscape and institutions in literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Buell, chairman of the English department at Oberlin College, proves that despite current theoretical objections and the proliferation of scholarship, literary history can be richly probing as well as informative. He is successful because he treats his dichotomiesneoclassical vs. romantic, popular vs. high, minor vs. major authorsas fluidly dialectical. The book's structure is also complementary: national issues such as the growth of literary institutions and genres are examined first, then related to the more regional concerns of reinventing the Puritan past and creating the literary space of the New England village. This is an extraordinary achievement, at once revisionary and balanced, speculative and solid. Martin Bickman, English Dept., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Part I. Four Overviews: 1. Theoretical premises; 2. A narrative overview of New England's literary development; 3. Marketplace, ethos, practice: the Antebellum literary situation; 4. Neoclassical continuities: the early national era and the New England literary tradition; Part II. Three Representative Genres: 5. New England Poetics: Emerson, Dickinson, and others; 6. New England oratory from Everett to Emerson; 7. Literary scripturism; Part III. Reinventing Puritanism: the New England Historical Imagination: 8. The concept of puritan ancestry; 9. The politics of historiography; 10. Fictionalizing puritan history: some problems and approaches; 11. Hawthorne and Stowe as rival interpreters of New England Puritanism; Part IV. New England as a Country of the Imagination: The Spirit of Place: 12. The cultural landscape in regional poetry and prose; 13. The village as icon; 14. Lococentrism from Dwight to Thoreau; 15. Comic grotesque; 16. Provincial Gothic: Hawthorne, Stoddard, and others; Postscript; Appendix. Vital statistics: a quantitative analysis of authorship as a profession in New England.

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