The American Renaissance has been a foundational concept in American literary history for nearly a century. The phrase connotes a period, as well as an event, an iconic turning point in the growth of a national literature and a canon of texts that would shape American fiction, poetry, and oratory for generations. F. O. Matthiessen coined the term in 1941 to describe the years 1850-1855, which saw the publications of major writings by Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. This Companion takes up the concept of the American Renaissance and explores its origins, meaning, and longevity. Essays by distinguished scholars move chronologically from the formative reading of American Renaissance authors to the careers of major figures ignored by Matthiessen, including Stowe, Douglass, Harper, and Longfellow. The volume uses the best of current literary studies, from digital humanities to psychoanalytic theory, to illuminate an era that reaches far beyond the Civil War and continues to shape our understanding of American literature.
Christopher N. Phillips is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on American literature, published in venues such as PMLA, Early American Literature, and Literature in the Early American Republic. He is the author of Epic in American Culture, Settlement to Reconstruction (2012) and The Hymnal Before the Notes: A History of Reading and Progress (forthcoming). Among recent fellowships received are a National Endowment for the Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia and a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in conjunction with the American Antiquarian Society.
Introduction Christopher N. Phillips; Into the Renaissance: 1. Reading the American Renaissance in a Pennsylvania library Christopher N. Phillips; 2. Cooper, Simms, and the boys of summer Jeffrey Walker; 3. The trouble with the Gothic: Poe, Lippard, and the poetics of critique Russell Sbriglia; 4. Emerson and Hawthorne; or, locating the American Renaissance Gavin Jones and Judith Richardson; 5. Cosmopolite at home: global Longfellow Christoph Irmscher; Rethinking the Renaissance: 6. Sins of the rising generation: religion and the American Renaissance Zachary McLeod Hutchins; 7. Uncle Tom's Cabin and the struggle over meaning: from slavery to race Barbara Hochman; 8. The (im)possibilities of Indianness: George Copway and the problem of representativity Mark Rifkin; 9. The poetess at work Alexandra Socarides; 10. Fern, Warner, and the work of sentimentality Jennifer Brady; 11. Melville: the ocean and the city Wyn Kelley; Beyond the Renaissance: 12. Whitman, in and out of the Renaissance David Haven Blake; 13. A Renaissance-self: Frederick Douglass and the art of remaking Zoe Trodd; 14. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper 'in the situation of Ishmael' Melba J. Boyd; 15. The corner-stones of Heaven: science comes to concord Laura Dassow Walls; Coda: War and the Renaissance Christopher N. Phillips.