Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville

Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville

by David S. Reynolds


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The award-winning Beneath the American Renaissance is a classic work on American literature. It immeasurably broadens our knowledge of our most important literary period, as first identified by F.O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance. With its combination of sharp critical insight, engaging observation, and narrative drive, it represents the kind of masterful cultural history for which David Reynolds is known. Here the major works of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson receive striking, original readings set against the rich backdrop of contemporary popular writing. Now back in print, the volume includes a new foreword by historian Sean Wilentz that reveals the book's impact and influence. A magisterial work of criticism and cultural history, Beneath the American Renaissance will fascinate anyone interested in the genesis of America's most significant literary epoch and the iconic figures who defined it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199782840
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/29/2011
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 904,405
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His books include Walt Whitman's America, Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, John Brown, Abolitionist, and Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America.

Table of Contents


Part I God's Bow, Man's Arrows: Religion, Reform, and American Literature

Chapter One: The New Religious Style
Chapter Two: The Reform Impulse and the Paradox of Immoral Didacticism
Chapter Three: The Transcendentalists, Whitman, and Popular Reform
Chapter Four: Hawthorne and the Reform Impulse
Chapter Five: Melville's Whited Sepulchres

Part II: Public Poison: Sensationalism and Sexuality

Chapter 6 The Sensational Press and the Rise of Subversive Literature
Chapter 7 The Erotic Imagination
Chapter 8 Poe and Popular Irrationalism
Chapter 9 Hawthorne's Cultural Demons
Chapter 10 Melville's Ruthless Democracy
Chapter 11 Whitman's Transfigured Sensationalism

Part III: Other Amazons: Women's Rights, Women's Wrongs, and the Literary Imagination
Chapter 12: Types of American Womanhood
Chapter 13: Hawthorne's Heroines
Chapter 14 The American Women's Renaissance and Emily Dickinson

Part IV The Grotesque Posture Popular Humor and the American Subversive Style

Chapter 15 The Carnivalization of American Language
Chapter 16 Transcendental Wild Oats
Chapter 17 Whitman's Poetic Humor
Chapter 18 Stylized Laugher in Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville

Epilogue Reconstructive Criticism: Literary Theory and Literary History

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