The American Epic: Transforming a Genre, 1770-1860

The American Epic: Transforming a Genre, 1770-1860

by John P. McWilliams, Jr
Pub. Date:
Cambridge University Press
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The American Epic: Transforming a Genre, 1770-1860

This is the first thorough account of the many attempts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to fashion a distinctly American epic literature from a wide range of potentially heroic New World subjects. McWilliams considers the cultural, political and literary implications of adapting Enlightenment news of republican progress to a genre that had traditionally celebrated the greatness of warriors. He shows how and why the epic in America had to be transformed from imitative narrative poetry into the new genres of prose history (Irving, Prescott, Parkman), fictional romance (Cooper, Melville), and free verse (Whitman).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521107020
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 04/02/2009
Series: Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture Series , #36
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 2.40(d)

Table of Contents

Part I. Imitations: Homer's Tyrannous Eye:
1. Invocations;
2. Freedom's Heroes;
3. Freedom's Fools;
4. A White Achilles for the West?;
Part II. Transformations: The Epic in new Genres:
5. Red Achilles, Red Satan;
6. The Destroying Angel;
7. Till a Better Epic comes along;
8. 'An Epic of Democracy?'; Prospect; Notes; Index.

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