Voyages of the Self: Pairs, Parallels and Patterns in American Art and Literature

Overview

Barbara Novak is one of America's premier art historians, the author of the seminal books American Painting of the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture. Now, with the paperback of Voyages of the Self, this esteemed critic completes the trilogy begun with the two earlier works, offering once again an exhilarating exploration of American art and culture. In this book, Novak explores several inspired pairings of key writers and painters, drawing insightful parallels between such masters as John Singleton Copley...

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Overview

Barbara Novak is one of America's premier art historians, the author of the seminal books American Painting of the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture. Now, with the paperback of Voyages of the Self, this esteemed critic completes the trilogy begun with the two earlier works, offering once again an exhilarating exploration of American art and culture. In this book, Novak explores several inspired pairings of key writers and painters, drawing insightful parallels between such masters as John Singleton Copley and Jonathan Edwards, Winslow Homer and William James, Frederic Edwin Church and Walt Whitman, and Jackson Pollock and Charles Olson. Through these and other groupings, Novak tracks the varied meanings of the self in America, in which the most salient characteristics of each artist or writer is shown to draw from—and in turn influence—the larger map of American life. Two major threads weaving through the book are the American preoccupation with the "object" and our continuing return to pragmatism. Through fruitful comparisons—whether between 29~ley and Edwards, or Lane and Emerson, or Ryder and Dickinson—Novak sheds unmatched light on our nation's artistic heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This relatively slim volume can be seen not only as completing the trilogy begun by American Painting and the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture but also as a lean, elegant summary of a lifetime's reading, looking, and thinking."—Karen Wilkin, The Hudson Review

"A breathtaking achievement. Barbara Novak's brilliant inquiry into the transactions of the American self both accepts the mystery of America's many dualities and explains how they coexist and even reinforce each other."—Marc Pachter, Director of the Natinoal Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

"While the identity of the American self is a perennially fascinating subject, no one, to my knowledge, has played off several of the most representative explorations of these journeys in both literature and the visual arts before, and there is no one in American literary or art history who could do it as well as Barbara Novak. Long acknowledged as America's premier guide across these borders, she is true to form in Voyages of the Self.... It is a pleasure to read prose so wholly free of jargon, always sure of its footing, at the same time elegant and economical in its formulations, and always intriguing. Would that the literature contained more writing like hers and more thinking this perceptive and steadily revealing."—Giles Gunn, Professor of English and of Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

"With her unmatched knowledge of the total range of American art, Novak uncovers many hitherto unseen correspondences between painting and literature. Voyages of the Self is a sweeping contribution to American cultural history, brimming with fresh insights and unexpected revelations. Along with Oxford's editions of Novak's classic books American Painting of the Nineteenth Century and Nature and Culture, it becomes part of a triumphant trilogy and the capstone of Novak's distinguished career as the dean of American art historians."—David S. Reynolds, author of John Brown, Abolitionist and Walt Whitman's America

Library Journal

Novak's (art history, emerita, Barnard Coll. & Columbia Univ.) seminal American Painting of the Nineteenth Century(1969) and her National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Nature and Culture(1980) are being reissued in third editions by Oxford with the publication of this final book in her trilogy on American art and culture. Here, she pairs some of her earlier artist subjects, as well as some 20th-century artists, with a major writer of the same period (e.g., John Singleton Copley and Jonathan Edwards, Winslow Homer and William James, Frederic Edwin Church and Walt Whitman, Jackson Pollock and Charles Olson), drawing remarkable parallels between their themes, philosophies, and aesthetics and revealing what she sees to be their uniquely American pragmatism. While her scholarship is meticulous, her writing style is accessible to general readers who follow American art and literature. This multidisciplinary work is highly recommended for public libraries where there is interest and for academic art history, literature, and American studies collections.
—Marcia Welsh Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195387919
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 538,951
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Widely recognized as one of the most influential theorists of American art, Barbara Novak is the author of several scholarly books and articles, as well as two novels and a play. Novak received the Woman of Achievement Award from the Barnard Alumnae Association in 1985. She was honored with the College Art Association (CAA) Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art History in 1998, and the Archives of American Art Fleischman Award for Scholarly Contribution to American Art in 1999, among other awards, grants, and medals for her work. In addition, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, for which she served as Commissioner for about 25 years, recently established the Barbara Novak Acquisition Fund. She advises the Archives of American Art and National Academy of Design. Novak served on the editorial boards of American Art Journal and College Art Journal. She has served as a fellow at the Society of American Historians. Novak is currently Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of Art History Emerita at Barnard College and Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

1. Copley and Edwards: Self, Consciousness, and Thing
2. Emerson and Lane: Luminist Time and the Transcendental Aboriginal Self
3. Thoreau and the Indian Self: Circles, Silence and Democratic Land
4. Whitman and Church: Transcendant Optimism and the Democratic Self
5. Homer and James: The Pragmatic Self made Concrete
6. Dickinson and Ryder: Immortality, Eternity and the Reclusive Self
7. Pollock and Olson: Time, Space, and the Activated Bodily Self

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