Emerson's Ghosts
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Emerson's Ghosts : Literature, Politics, and the Making of Americanists

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It is increasingly commonplace to find scholars who circle back to Ralph Waldo Emerson and his intellectual heirs as a way of better understanding contemporary social and aesthetic contexts. Why does Emerson's cultural legacy continue to influence writers so forcefully? In this innovative study, Randall Fuller examines the way pivotal twentieth-century critics have understood and deployed Emerson as part of their own larger projects aimed at reconceiving America. He examines previously unpublished material and original research on Van Wyck Brooks, Perry Miller, F.O. Matthiessen, and Sacvan Bercovitch along with other supporting thinkers. An engaging institutional history of American literary studies in the twentieth century, Emerson's Ghosts reveals the unexpected convergent forces that have shaped American cultural history in lasting ways.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 157.48 x 238.76 x 22.86mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195313925
  • 9780195313925
  • 1,987,987

Review quote

In Emerson's Ghosts Randall Fuller remaps American criticism, showing persuasively how Emerson has haunted Americanist critics with his vision of a public intellectual who can speak with authority and influence to his culture. Emerson's "scholar" offered a divided culture a promise of unity and just purpose, an achievement that critics such as Van Wyck Brooks, F. O. Matthiessen, Perry Miller and Sacvan Bercovitch have both distrusted and desired. Emerson's Ghosts is an important contribution to Emerson studies, and a perceptive identification of one of the most influential lines of analysis of United States culture as a whole. * David M. Robinson, author of Emerson and the Conduct of Life * Randall Fuller presents a lucid, persuasive, and concise analysis of Emerson's political and literary maturation and his recognition of the creative, and potentially liberating, tensions between thought and action, language and reality, aesthetics and history. His illuminating reading of Emerson's "The American Scholar," demonstrates why he believes that essay has structured the fields of American literary criticism and American studies and inspired every generation of Americanists. In careful studies of the work of Van Wyck Brooks, F.O Mattthiessen, Perry Miller, and Sacvan Bercovitch, and others, Fuller shows how critics have interpreted Emerson and applied his thought and belief in the potential of literature to shape and change American culture and society. This is an important and exciting accomplishment. * Emory Elliott, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California, Riverside * Emerson's Ghosts uses the beacon of America's exemplary intellectual to cast sharp new light on the tragic careers of later American scholars. Its case studies embrace both public intellectuals and professors who helped to define what we do when we do American Studies. Deeply researched, eloquently written, and without cant, this book establishes Randall Fuller as someone to hear more from. * Jonathan Arac, Mellon Professor of English, U of Pittsburgh *show more

About Randall Fuller

Randall Fuller is Associate Professor of English at Drury University. He is the author of From Battlefields Rising and the coeditor of The Business of Reflection: Hawthorne in His Notebooks.show more

Table of contents

Table of Contents ; Preface ; Chapter 1. The Haunting of American Literature ; Chapter 2. Emerson in the Gilded Age ; Chapter 3. How to Dismantle American Culture: Van Wyck Brooks and Oppositional Criticism ; Chapter 4. F. O. Matthiessen and the Tragedy of the American Scholar ; Chapter 5. Perry Miller's Errand into the Wilderness ; Chapter 6. Sacvan Bercovitch as "American" Scholar ; Chapter 7. Emerson's Ghosts ; End Notes ; Bibliographyshow more

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