Julie Cheng & Lily Huang
Research and Bibliography
December 14, 1999
American Literary Studies to the Civil War
¢¹. Introduction
  1. Can American Literature to the Civil War be subdivided?
  2. What is the American identity?
¢º. New England Puritanism
  1. Puritans vs. Wars
    1. Perry Miller
      1. Miller's Puritans "struggled with anxieties and fears and with their human scale as motes in cosmos, but they were intellectual heroes in the New World wilderness, tough-minded, courageous, bold, robust, and central to Western civilization" (Tichi 211).
      2. Miller's interpretation of the United States' role in WW¢º
      3. The Significance of Puritanism in the Study of American Literature
    1. Sacvan Bercovitch
      1. Eschatology: embodied in the American Dream
      2. Presentism: During 1960s, the Vietnam War era, many literary studies "perceived the United States not as a global democratic benefactor but as a militaristic empire"(212).
    1. Decline in 1970s: Since 1970s, critics put less emphasis on Puritan passion than before.
  1. Recent work: concerns about "anguish, grief, and mourning"
  2. Puritan Colonial Texts
    1. Exclusiveness: "the literary text is exclusively self-referential to one presumably homogeneous group, the Puritans, and is emphatically masculine even as it subsumes two genders" (213).
    2. Mary White Rowlandson's True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary White Rowlandson
      1. Before 1990s: Rowlandson's work was important because it depicts "Puritan trials and doctrinal orthodoxy on the colonial frontier" (214).
      2. 1990s and after: "Loss becomes overwhelmingly present in its absence, and the Puritans become one ethnic group over and against Algonquians."
¢». Marginal Texts
  1. Gothic Novels: "criticisms of a hierarchical traditional society and of "the excesses of individualism"' (Davidson 212-53).
  2. Marxist and Feminist: approaches to "reconfigurations and revaluations of revolutionary and postrevolutionary-early national canonical and noncanonical texts"(217).
¢¼. Mid-nineteenth-century American Renaissance
  1. Reinterpretation "major" texts and inclusion marginal texts
  2. F. O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance: defines the literary quality of American writing.
  3. What is the quality of American writing? ? viewed the United States as "a country of democratic values"
  4. New Criticism: "The theorists of American literature conceived the social structure of the literary work as a microcosm of collective psychology or myth and thus made New Criticism into a method of culture analysis" (Graff, Promise 217).
  5. What is Authorship? ?¡§The very conception of authorship has undergone the process of historicization that discloses how problematic is the term, how coordinate through the centuries with the unprecedented rise of individualization and private property"(218).
  6. New Historicism: tries to deal with the wholeness of the society, however, the racial conflicts are left irresolvable.
  7. Writing Situation: The classic American writers are inevitably evaluated by their market places values.
  8. American Individualism
    1. Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick was once being praised but later is regarded as a "false cultural hero."
    2. Thoreau is a "democratic heroic individualist" (221).
    3. The problems of individualism: its qualities of "change, difference, possibility, mobility, restlessness flux." (222)
  1. The Nineteenth-century Sentimental Fiction
    1. The long forgotten women writers "come to the fore in analysis that earn the title "sentimental power'" (224)
    2. Hawthorne was most valued because his stories "moralize on domestic topics."
  1. How do women construct their sentimentality? ? For women writers, writing becomes a way to express their private or secret feeling.
  2. Perspective of Reader-response: ¡"the reception of texts differentiates according to national-cultural patterns" (225).
  3. African American Literature
    1. Before: was excluded from American literature
    2. Recently: is "subjected to theoretical analysis of its rhetorical structures"(Gates, Signifying Monkey).
¢½. Conclusion
Redrawing the Boundaries: The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies.
Ed. Stephen Greenblatt & Gile Gunn.  NY: MLA, 1992.