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Reading the American Novel 1780 - 1865
     

Reading the American Novel 1780 - 1865

by Shirley Samuels
 

The decades following America's emergence as a free nation were accompanied by a wealth of fiction writing. But what exactly did America's earliest novelists write about? And how do we interpret their works today?

Reading the American Novel 1780–1865, explores the diverse fiction produced in the United States from the late 18th century until the

Overview

The decades following America's emergence as a free nation were accompanied by a wealth of fiction writing. But what exactly did America's earliest novelists write about? And how do we interpret their works today?

Reading the American Novel 1780–1865, explores the diverse fiction produced in the United States from the late 18th century until the onset of the Civil War. The book provides an overview of early fiction along with in-depth examinations of specific novels, asking how they establish and develop grounds of inquiry. The major authors are featured, including Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, alongside less familiar writers such as Fanny Fern, Caroline Kirkland, George Lippard, and Catharine Sedgwick. A chapter dedicated solely to popular women's fiction explores works by Louisa May Alcott, Maria Cummins, E. D. E. N. Southworth, Susan B. Warner, and Harriet Wilson. The social and historical contexts of the time are considered in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the stories that evolved to explain those events and help Americans define themselves. The book also explores questions of identity – about the novel, its 19th-century readers, and the emerging structure of the United States – as an important backdrop to understanding American fiction.

Reading the American Novel 1780–1865 offers fascinating insights into the evolution of America's most popular literary genre.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Named CHOICE Outstanding Title for 2012

“Perhaps only a scholar of Samuel’s perspicacity could produce a work that treads familiar textual ground with such startling insight, a work that moves elegantly between its meta-critical concerns and the ingenuity of its close readings.  Summing Up: Essential.  All readers.”  (Choice, 1 October 2012)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781118779910
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
02/10/2014
Series:
Reading the Novel Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"In her openness to surprise and discovery, Samuels demonstrates that the pleasures of reading are forever new and changing, as historical conditions and media formations change. This wonderful book will both confirm a rich tradition of scholarship and challenge its findings at every turn."
Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Samuels makes a powerful and timely case for the ongoing importance of reading 19thc US fiction. In her capable hands, newcomers as well as seasoned readers of this material discover the pleasures and profound possibilities that fiction reading has offered American audiences over the last two hundred years."
Caroline Levander, Rice University

Meet the Author

Shirley Samuels is Professor of English and American Studies at Cornell University. She is the author of Romances of the Republic (1996) and Facing America (2004), and editor of The Culture of Sentiment (1992) and The Companion to American Fiction, 1780–1865 (2004).

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