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How do we approach the rich field of nineteenth-century American literature? How might we recalibrate the coordinates of critical vision and open up new areas of investigation? To answer such questions, this volume brings together 23 original essays written by leading scholars in American literary studies. By examining specific novels, poems, essays, diaries and other literary examples, the authors confront head-on the implications, scope, and scale of their analysis. The chapters foreground methodological concerns to assess the challenges of transnational perspectives, disability studies, environmental criticism, affect studies, gender analysis, and other cutting-edge approaches. The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century American Literature is thus both critically incisive and sharply practical, inviting attention to how readers read, how critics critique, and how interpreters interpret. It offers forceful strategies for rethinking protest novels, women's writing, urban literature, slave narratives, and popular fiction, just to name a few of the wide array of topics and genres covered. This volume, rather than surveying established ideas in studies of nineteenth-century American literature, registers what is happening now and anticipates what will shape the field's future.
Russ Castronovo is is Dorothy Draheim Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era (University of Chicago Press, 2007); Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States (Duke UP, 2001), and Fathering the Nation: American Genealogies of Slavery and Freedom (University of California Press, 1996).