The Importance of Feeling English: American Literature and the British Diaspora, 1750-1850

The Importance of Feeling English: American Literature and the British Diaspora, 1750-1850

by Leonard Tennenhouse

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Overview

The Importance of Feeling English: American Literature and the British Diaspora, 1750-1850 by Leonard Tennenhouse

American literature is typically seen as something that inspired its own conception and that sprang into being as a cultural offshoot of America's desire for national identity. But what of the vast precedent established by English literature, which was a major American import between 1750 and 1850?

In The Importance of Feeling English, Leonard Tennenhouse revisits the landscape of early American literature and radically revises its features. Using the concept of transatlantic circulation, he shows how some of the first American authors--from poets such as Timothy Dwight and Philip Freneau to novelists like William Hill Brown and Charles Brockden Brown--applied their newfound perspective to pre-existing British literary models. These American "re-writings" would in turn inspire native British authors such as Jane Austen and Horace Walpole to reconsider their own ideas of subject, household, and nation.

The enduring nature of these literary exchanges dramatically recasts early American literature as a literature of diaspora, Tennenhouse argues--and what made the settlers' writings distinctly and indelibly American was precisely their insistence on reproducing Englishness, on making English identity portable and adaptable. Written in an incisive and illuminating style, The Importance of Feeling English reveals the complex roots of American literature, and shows how its transatlantic movement aided and abetted the modernization of Anglophone culture at large.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400827923
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/09/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Leonard Tennenhouse is professor of English, comparative literature, and modern culture and media at Brown University. He is the author of Power on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres.

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