9780521142007

Formalism, Experience, and the Making of American Literature in the Nineteenth Century

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780521142007

  • ISBN10:

    0521142008

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-04-01
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Summary

Theo Davis offers a fresh account of the emergence of a national literature in the United States. Taking American literature's universalism as an organising force that must be explained rather than simply exposed, she contends that Emerson, Hawthorne, and Stowe's often noted investigations of experience are actually based in a belief that experience is an abstract category governed by typicality, not the property of the individual subject. Additionally, these authors locate the form of the literary work in the domain of abstract experience, projected out of - not embodied in - the text. After tracing the emergence of these beliefs out of Scottish common sense philosophy and through early American literary criticism, Davis analyses how American authors' prose seeks to work an art of abstract experience. In so doing, she reconsiders the place of form in modern literary studies.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction: new critical formalism and identity in Americanist criticism
Types of interest: Scottish theory, literary nationalism, and John Neal
Sensing Hawthorne: the figure of Hawthorne's affect
'Life is an ecstasy': Ralph Waldo Emerson and A. Bronson Alcott
Laws of experience: truth and feeling in Harriet Beecher Stowe
Works cited
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