American Lit

The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers
eds. Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

(2017) The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers is the most comprehensive anthology of its kind: an extraordinary range of voices offering the expressions of African American women in print before, during, and after the Civil War. Edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this collection comprises work from forty-nine writers arranged into sections of memoir, poetry, and essays on feminism, education, and the legacy of African American women writers.

New England Beyond Criticism: In Defense of Americas First Literature
Elisa New

(2014.) An exploration and defense of the prominence of New England’s literary tradition within the canon of American literature. Traces the impact of the literature of New England on the development of spirituality, community, and culture in America, and includes in-depth studies of work from authors and poets such as William Bradford, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Henry David Thoreau.

Literary Secretaries / Secretarial Culture
Leah Price

(2005). Topics range from copyright law to voice recognition software, from New Women to haunted typewriters and from the history of technology to the future of information management. Together, the essays will provide literary critics with a new angle on current debates about gender, labour, and the material text, as well as a window into the prehistory of our information age.

The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s
Werner Sollors

(2014). Drawing on a vast array of American, German, and other sources–diaries, photographs, newspaper articles, government reports, essays, works of fiction, and film–Werner Sollors makes visceral the experiences of defeat and liberation, homelessness and repatriation, concentration camps and denazification.

The Dream of the Great American Novel
Lawrence Buell

(2014). The idea of “the great American novel” continues to thrive almost as vigorously as in its nineteenth-century heyday, defying 150 years of attempts to dismiss it as amateurish or obsolete. In this landmark book, the first in many years to take in the whole sweep of national fiction, Lawrence Buell reanimates this supposedly antiquated idea, demonstrating that its history is a key to the dynamics of national literature and national identity itself.

Tocqueville’s Discovery of America
Leo Damrosch

(2010).  Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America was the product of a young man’s open-minded experience of America at a time of rapid change. In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, the prizewinning biographer Leo Damrosch retraces Tocqueville’s nine-month journey through the young nation in 1831–1832, illuminating how his enduring ideas were born of imaginative interchange with America and Americans, and painting a vivid picture of Jacksonian America.

A Bibliographical Description of Books and Pamphlets of American Verse Printed from 1610-1820
Roger Stoddard

(2012). The culmination of five decades of research, this monumental work of descriptive bibliography, containing entries for more than 1,300 editions, assembles by date of printing the corpus of poetry composed and printed in the United States of America in books and pamphlets up through 1820.

A New Literary History of America
Ed. Werner Sollors, Greil Marcus

(2009). America is a nation making itself up as it goes along—a story of discovery and invention unfolding in speeches and images, letters and poetry, unprecedented feats of scholarship and imagination. In these myriad, multiform, endlessly changing expressions of the American experience, the authors and editors of this volume find a new American history.

Ethnic Modernism
Werner Sollors

(2008).  In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States moved from the periphery to the center of global cultural production. At the same time, technologies of dissemination evolved rapidly, and versions of modernism emerged as dominant art forms. How did African American, European immigrant, and other minority writers take part in these developments that also transformed the United States, giving it an increasingly multicultural self-awareness?

The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy
John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins

(2009).  In 1863, after surviving the devastating Battle of Corinth, Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Mississippi, deserted the Confederate Army and began a guerrilla battle against the Confederacy. For two years he and other residents of Jones County engaged in an insurrection that would have repercussions far beyond the scope of the Civil War.

The Dog of the Marriage
Amy Hempel

(2005) The Dog of the Marriage, Hempel’s fourth collection, is about sexual obsession, relationships gone awry, and the unsatisfied longings of everyday life.

Corpus Christi
Bret Johnston

(2005) A car accident joins strangers linked by an intimate knowledge of madness. A teenage boy remembers his father’s act of sudden and self-righteous violence. A “hurricane party” reunites a couple whom tragedy parted. And, in an unforgettable three-story cycle, an illness sets in profound relief a man’s relationship with his mother and the odd, shifting fidelity of truth to love.

Pragmatism: A Reader
Louis Menand

(1997). Pragmatism has been called America’s only major contribution to philosophy. But since its birth was announced a century ago in 1898 by William James, pragmatism has played a vital role in almost every area of American intellectual and cultural life, inspiring judges, educators, politicians, poets, and social prophets.

The Metaphysical Club
Louis Menand

(2002). The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Ma, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future Supreme Court justice; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about 9 months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea — an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Amy Hempel

(2007). Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. This celebrated volume gathers together her complete work — four short collections of stunning stories about marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation. With her inimitable compassion and wit, Hempel introduces characters who make choices that seem inevitable, and whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience.

The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
Darcy Frey

(2004). Basketball on the playgrounds of Coney Island is much more than a game — for many young men it is their escape from a life of crime, poverty, and despair. Darcy Frey chronicles the aspirations of four of the neighborhood’s most promising players. What they have going for them is athletic talent, grace, and years of dedication. But working against them are woefully inadequate schooling, family circumstances that are often desperate, and the slick, brutal world of college athletic recruitment.

The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2012). From his earliest work of literary-historical excavation in 1982, through his current writings on the history and science of African American genealogy, the essays collected here follow his path as historian, theorist, canon-builder, and cultural critic, revealing a thinker of uncommon breadth whose work is uniformly guided by the drive to uncover and restore a history that has for too long been buried and denied.

Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction
Philip Fisher

(2000). In this bold reinterpretation of American culture, Philip Fisher describes generational life as a series of renewed acts of immigration into a new world. Along with the actual flood of immigrants, technological change brings about an immigration of objects and systems, ways of life and techniques for the distribution of ideas. Still the New World makes a persuasive argument against the reduction of literature to identity questions of race, gender, and ethnicity.

Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill
Helen Vendler

(2010). Helen Vendler examines the ways in which five great modern American poets, writing their final books, try to find a style that does justice to life and death alike. With traditional religious consolations no longer available to them, these poets must invent new ways to express the crisis of death, as well as the paradoxical coexistence of a declining body and an undiminished consciousness.

The Line’s Eye
Elisa New

(1999). Is American vision implicitly possessive, as a generation of critics contends? By viewing the American poetic tradition through the prism of pragmatism, Elisa New contests this claim. A new reading of how poetry “sees,” her work is a passionate defense of the power of the poem, the ethics of perception, and the broader possibilities of American sight.

The Americanist
Daniel Aaron

(2007). The Americanist is author and critic Daniel Aaron’s anthem to nearly a century of public and private life in America and abroad. Aaron, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of American Studies, graduated from the University of Michigan, received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught for over three decades each at Smith College and Harvard.

Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered Their Pasts
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2010). Faces of America unfolds as a riveting journey into our country’s complex ancestral past. America, as Gates shows us, is a nation of many historical threads, interwoven and united in the present moment. In this compelling book, Gates demonstrates that where we come from profoundly and fundamentally informs who we are today.

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries
Helen Vendler

(2012). Vendler turns her illuminating skills as a critic to 150 selected poems of Emily Dickinson. In selecting these poems Vendler chooses to exhibit many aspects of Dickinson’s work as a poet, “from her first-person poems to the poems of grand abstraction, from her ecstatic verses to her unparalleled depictions of emotional numbness, from her comic anecdotes to her painful poems of aftermath.”