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Princeton University Press
The Global Remapping of American Literature

The Global Remapping of American Literature

by Paul Giles


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The Global Remapping of American Literature

This book charts how the cartographies of American literature as an institutional category have varied radically across different times and places. Arguing that American literature was consolidated as a distinctively nationalist entity only in the wake of the U.S. Civil War, Paul Giles identifies this formation as extending until the beginning of the Reagan presidency in 1981. He contrasts this with the more amorphous boundaries of American culture in the eighteenth century, and with ways in which conditions of globalization at the turn of the twenty-first century have reconfigured the parameters of the subject.

In light of these fluctuating conceptions of space, Giles suggests new ways of understanding the shifting territory of American literary history. ranging from Cotton Mather to David Foster Wallace, and from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Zora Neale Hurston. Giles considers why European medievalism and Native American prehistory were crucial to classic nineteenth-century authors such as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Melville. He discusses how twentieth-century technological innovations, such as air travel, affected representations of the national domain in the texts of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. And he analyzes how regional projections of the South and the Pacific Northwest helped to shape the work of writers such as William Gilmore Simms, José Martí, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Gibson.

Bringing together literary analysis, political history, and cultural geography, The Global Remapping of American Literature reorients the subject for the transnational era.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691136134
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 01/23/2011
Pages: 340
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Paul Giles is the Challis Professor of English at the University of Sydney. His many books include "Atlantic Republic" and "Virtual Americas".

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Deterritorialization of American Literature 1

Part One: Temporal Latitudes Chapter 1: Augustan American Literature: An Aesthetics of Extravagance 29
Restoration Legacies: Cook and Byrd 29
The Plantation Epic: Magnalia Christi Americana 42
New World Topographies: Wheatley, Dwight, Alsop 55
Chapter 2: Medieval American Literature: Antebellum Narrativesand the "Map of the Infinite" 70
Emerson, Longfellow, and the Longue Durée 70
"Medieval" Mound Builders and the Archaeological Imagination 86
Hawthorne, Melville, and the Question of Genealogy 97

Part Two: The Boundaries of the Nation Chapter 3: The Arcs of Modernism: Geography as Allegory 111
Postbellum Cartographies: William Dean Howells 111
Ethnic Palimpsests, National Standards 120
"Description without Place": Stevens, Stein, and Modernist Geographies 125
Chapter 4: Suburb, Network, Homeland: National Spaceand the Rhetoric of Broadcasting 141
"Voice of America": Roth, Morrison, DeLillo 141
Lost in Space: John Updike 154
The MTV Generation: Wallace and Eggers 161

Part Three: Spatial Longitudes Chapter 5: Hemispheric Parallax: South Americaand the American South 183
Rotating Perspectives: Bartram, Simms, Martí 183
Regionalism and Pseudo-geography: Hurston and Bishop 199
Mississippi Vulgate: Faulkner and Barthelme 212
Chapter 6: Metaregionalism: The Global Pacific Northwest 223
Reversible Coordinates: The Epistemology of Space 223
Orient and Orientation: Snyder, Le Guin, Brautigan 232
Virtual Canadas: Gibson and Coupland 242
Conclusion: American Literature and theQuestion of Circumference 255

Works Cited 269
Index 305

What People are Saying About This


This timely and inclusive book reconfigures the coordinates of the entire field of American literature for the transnational epoch. Scrupulously researched, it inaugurates a wholly alternative mode of understanding and is bound to provoke argument and discussion. Giles's engaging prose is a pleasure to read.
Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth College

Leonard Tennenhouse

There is no question that this ambitious book will find a wide readership among those in the fields of American literature and American studies. It brilliantly covers an impressive range of texts and offers new and provocative insights. Rich in detail, its implications for the study of American literature are decisive and far-reaching.
Leonard Tennenhouse, Duke University

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