American Literature 84:3

An issue of: American Literature

American Literature 84:3
Journal Issue Pages: 228 Volume 84, Number 3 Published: September 2012 An issue of American Literature


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John Neal, American Romance, and International Romanticism

Gilmore, P.

In this essay, Gilmore argues that examining the largely forgotten early romances of John Neal within a transatlantic framework leads to a reconsideration of our understanding of romanticism in the United States. Focusing on Randolph (1823) and Logan (1822), he draws parallels between Neal’s criticism and fiction and the writings of European romantics such as Friedrich Schlegel and Percy Bysshe Shelley. In doing so, Gilmore contends that Neal provides an alternative understanding of the politics, history, and poetics of romanticism and the romance in the United States. Over the past century, the followers of F. O. Matthiessen and Richard Chase and their New Americanist critics have tended to describe romanticism and the romance in terms of an idealistic retreat into nature or aesthetic form. Furthermore, both mid-twentieth-century critics and later revisionists emphasized a national dimension to American romanticism and the American romance, either as epitomizing a distinctly American literature or as reinforcing or contesting dominant conceptions of the United States. In contrast, he argues that placing the romance, particularly as espoused and practiced by John Neal, at the center of our examination of romanticism in the United States foregrounds the importance of an international literary and sociocultural framework. In this light, romanticism appears less an ideological retreat from modernity or a nationalistic vehicle than a transnational, dialectical engagement with modernity’s atomization of the individual.

The "Plain Facts" of Fine Paper in "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids"

Thompson, G.

Thompson’s essay intervenes in conversations about mid-nineteenth-century authorship and print culture by distinguishing between the economy of paper and the economy of print. He argues that critical treatments of Melville’s work, and particularly "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids" (1855), have not adequately attended to the material economy of paper that existed for Melville before the cycle of literary publication, distribution, and circulation began. Living in the important papermaking region of rural west Massachusetts allowed Melville to experience the raw materials of that economic sector not as a distant or vicarious consumer but, following his visit to the Old Berkshire Mill in Dalton in the winter of 1851, as a specialized purchaser. Instead of treating paper as a metonym of literary-market exchange, then, Thompson’s essay examines Melville’s experience and imagining of this raw material—literally avant la lettre—as a way of better understanding the economy of a substance whose manufactured sizes (folio, octavo, and duodecimo) he had already used to classify whales in Moby-Dick and on which his recalcitrant copyist, Bartleby, refuses to write.

The Moccasin Telegraph: Sign-Talk Autobiography and Pretty-shield, Medicine Woman of the Crows

Yandell, K.

In 1931, Crow medicine woman Pretty Shield delivered her oral autobiography to Frank Linderman, simultaneously through an interpreter of spoken Crow, and without translation to Linderman in Indian Sign Language. Pretty Shield’s and Linderman’s use of the sign language within this autobiography, coupled with Pretty Shield’s explanations of historical use of the sign language among precontact Crow people, suggests new views of various critical problems within the hybrid genre of American Indian autobiography, of which this text is one example. Pretty Shield’s husband, Goes Ahead, used the s

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