E Pluribus Unum : Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Constitutional Paradox

By: Harris, W. CMaterial type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on DemandPublisher: Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 2005Description: 1 online resource (329 p.)ISBN: 9781587295935Subject(s): 19th century | American literature | American literature - 19th century - History and criticism | Cultural pluralism in literature | Group identity in literature | History | History and criticism | In literature | Literature and society | Literature and society - United States - History - 19th century | Politics and literature | Politics and literature - United States - History - 19th century | United States | United States - In literatureGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: E Pluribus Unum : Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Constitutional ParadoxDDC classification: 810.9/358/097309034 | 810.9358097309034 LOC classification: PS217PS217.P54H37 2005Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Contents; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Introduction; "Brotherhood among the Atoms" Edgar Allan Poe and the Poetics of Constitution; "A Religion Which Is No Religion" Walt Whitman and the Writing of a New American Bible; "But Aren't It All a Sham?" Herman Melville and the Critique of Unity; "Necessarily Short of Sight" William James and the Dilemma of Variety; Afterword; Notes; Works Cited; Index
Summary: "Out of many, one." But how do the many become one without sacrificing difference or autonomy? This problem was critical to both identity formation and state formation in late 18th- and 19th-century America. The premise of this book is that American writers of the time came to view the resolution of this central philosophical problem as no longer the exclusive province of legislative or judicial documents but capable of being addressed by literary texts as well. The project of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying concern is the general philosophic problem of the one and the many as it came to be understood at the time. W. C. Harris supplies a detailed account of the genealogy of the concept, exploring both its applications and its paradoxes as a basis for state and identity formation. Harris then considers the perilous integration of the one and the many as a motive in the major literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon critical as well as historical resources and upon contexts as diverse as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses attempts by Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to resolve the problems of social construction caused by the paradox of e pluribus unum by writing literary and philosophical texts that supplement the nation''s political founding documents. Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) provide their own distinct, sometimes contradictory resolutions to the conflicting demands of diversity and unity, equality and hierarchy. Each of these texts understands literary and philosophical writing as having the potential to transform--conceptually or actually--the construction of social order. This work will be of great interest to literary and constitutional scholars.
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PS217 | PS217.A35G55 2009 Aesthetic Materialism : PS217 | PS217.B55M33 2004eb Fictions of the Black Atlantic in American Foundational Literature. PS217 | PS217.B65 L48 2009 | PS217.B65L48 2010 Bohemia in America, 1858–1920. PS217 | PS217.P54H37 2005 E Pluribus Unum : PS217 | PS217.R6G54 1985 American Romanticism and the Marketplace. PS217 | PS217.S55 | PS217.S55 B47 2010 | PS217.S55B47 2004 The Fugitive''s Properties : PS217 | PS217.W64 H39 2012 Evolutionary Rhetoric :

Contents; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Introduction; "Brotherhood among the Atoms" Edgar Allan Poe and the Poetics of Constitution; "A Religion Which Is No Religion" Walt Whitman and the Writing of a New American Bible; "But Aren't It All a Sham?" Herman Melville and the Critique of Unity; "Necessarily Short of Sight" William James and the Dilemma of Variety; Afterword; Notes; Works Cited; Index

"Out of many, one." But how do the many become one without sacrificing difference or autonomy? This problem was critical to both identity formation and state formation in late 18th- and 19th-century America. The premise of this book is that American writers of the time came to view the resolution of this central philosophical problem as no longer the exclusive province of legislative or judicial documents but capable of being addressed by literary texts as well. The project of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying concern is the general philosophic problem of the one and the many as it came to be understood at the time. W. C. Harris supplies a detailed account of the genealogy of the concept, exploring both its applications and its paradoxes as a basis for state and identity formation. Harris then considers the perilous integration of the one and the many as a motive in the major literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon critical as well as historical resources and upon contexts as diverse as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses attempts by Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to resolve the problems of social construction caused by the paradox of e pluribus unum by writing literary and philosophical texts that supplement the nation''s political founding documents. Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) provide their own distinct, sometimes contradictory resolutions to the conflicting demands of diversity and unity, equality and hierarchy. Each of these texts understands literary and philosophical writing as having the potential to transform--conceptually or actually--the construction of social order. This work will be of great interest to literary and constitutional scholars.

Description based upon print version of record.

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CHOICE Review

With this volume, Harris (Shippensburg Univ.) makes an important contribution to the study of 19th-century American literature. Arguing that authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and William James wanted to understand how a strong, unified nation could emerge from a loose confederation of states, the author contends that Poe and Whitman were much more willing to accept a strong union even if that meant the sacrifice of some individuality. Political scientists have, of course, long debated the question of federalism, but Harris contends that it also shaped American literature in ways that have yet to be analyzed. The author devotes whole chapters to Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Moby-Dick, Billy Budd), and James (The Varieties of Religious Experience), but he also touches on Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Transcendentalism. His introduction and copious endnotes provide the theoretical framework for his thesis and give the reader many additional avenues to explore. Although this book is probably too technical for nonspecialists, it gives scholars of the period much to think about as they continue to evaluate the role of politics in 19th-century US literature. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty. J. McWilliams Dickinson State University

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