The Global Remapping of American Literature

The Global Remapping of American Literature

Paul Giles

Language: English

Pages: 344

ISBN: 0691136130

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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Elizabeth Bishop, title page to Geography III (1976). Courtesy of Random House Group. Joseph Cornell: inside your boxes my words became visible for a moment. (275–76) The phrase “cages for infinity” is oxymoronic, of course, and this poem plays knowingly with a dialectic of contradiction, where visibility and invisibility, facade and latency, become mutually constitutive. There is a view of Bishop, prevalent particularly among U.S. commentators, holding that her discursive repressions and

Age. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007. Jurca, Catherine. White Diaspora: The Suburb and the Twentieth-Century American Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. Kadir, Djelal. “Introduction: America and Its Studies.” PMLA 118.1 (2003): 9–24. Kallen, Horace M. “Democracy versus the Melting-Pot: A Study of American Nationality.” The Nation 100 (1915): 190–94 (Feb. 18) and 217–20 (Feb. 25). Kammen, Michael. Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in

very first time we see him, at the beginning of chapter 3, he is standing side by side with an Indian and is described as an apparent hybrid, “a white man, clad in a strange disarray of civilized and savage costume” (60). The burden of Hawthorne’s novel is to examine anomalous cultural formations such as these and to examine what happens when they lie athwart each other. The Scarlet Letter is, of course, a book now deeply embedded within the fabric of American pedagogy, and many of the more

Seymour Levov’s marriage to a Catholic girl with a taste for rosary beads and statues of “little baby Jesus in the manger” (393), a union that causes ructions within their respective families. Nevertheless, the Roth family trip to Washington DC in The Plot Against America appears designed to appropriate and commandeer American patriotic values, as the family in 1941 tours the U.S. Capitol—“the very heart of American history” (58)—visits the Lincoln Memorial, and pays homage to the Gettysburg

allow excerpts from his poems to appear in various promotional spots on the cable TV channel and its Web site (Ryzik 1). This intermingling of high and low culture is entirely commensurate with Ashbery’s intellectual project, going back to his days in Paris writing about surrealist art, and such interest in hybridity also manifests itself in his later poetic panegyrics to popular TV culture. We see this, for example, in “Daffy Duck in Hollywood” (1975), where the cartoon hero complains in

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