The Part and the Whole in Early American Literature, Print Culture, and Art (Transits: Literature, Thought & Culture, 1650-1850) (Paperback)
The essays in this pathbreaking collection consider the significance of varied early American fragmentary genres and practices—from diaries and poetry, to almanacs and commonplace books, to sermons and lists, to Indigenous ruins and other material shards and fragments—often overlooked by critics in a scholarly privileging of the “whole.” Contributors from literary studies, book history, and visual culture discuss a host of canonical and non-canonical figures, from Edward Taylor and Washington Irving to Mary Rowlandson and Sarah Kemble Knight, offering insight into the many intellectual, ideological, and material variations of “form” that populated the early American cultural landscape. As these essays reveal, the casting of the fragmentary as aesthetically eccentric or incomplete was a way of reckoning with concerns about the related fragmentation of nation, society, and self. For a contemporary audience, they offer new ways to think about the inevitable gaps and absences in our cultural and historical archive.
About the Author
MATTHEW PETHERS is an associate professor of American intellectual and cultural history at the University of Nottingham in the UK. He is the editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Letters and Letter-Writing and is currently coediting volume two of The Collected Writings of Charles Brockden Brown (Bucknell University Press).
DANIEL DIEZ COUCH is an associate professor of English at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, where he teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature. He is the author of American Fragments: The Political Aesthetic of Unfinished Forms in the Early Republic.