The Postcolonial and Imperial Experience in American Transcendentalism

Hardcover | January 15, 2012

byMarek Paryz

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This book analyzes literary representations of the American experience in selected works from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. Marek Paryz reveals the ambivalence underneath the cultural and political development of the United States as a recently independent former colony, on the one hand, and as a burgeoning imperial power on the other. With insight and precision, this study reaches beneath the surface of the political allegiances declared by these authors and the ideological stances contested by them to explore symbolic literary structures revolving around the figurations of dependence and expansion.

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This book analyzes literary representations of the American experience in selected works from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. Marek Paryz reveals the ambivalence underneath the cultural and political development of the United States as a recently independent former colony, on the one hand, and as a burgeonin...

Marek Paryz is an associate professor and the chair of the section of American Literature at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw. He is the editor of the Polish Journal for American Studies.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:250 pages, 9.67 × 5.7 × 0.75 inPublished:January 15, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230338747

ISBN - 13:9780230338746

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Mapping the Field * PART I: Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Double Figuration * Figures of Dependence: Exploring the Postcolonial in Emerson’s Selected Texts * Beyond the Traveler’s Testimony: English Traits and the Construction of Postcolonial Counter-Discourse * Emerson, New England, and the Rhetoric of Expansion * PART II: Henry David Thoreau: The Imperial Imaginary * Thoreau’s Imperial Fantasy: Walden versus Robinson Crusoe * The Politics of the Genre: Exploration and Ethnography in The Maine Woods * PART III: Walt Whitman: The National Trajectory * Postcolonial Whitman: The Poet and the Nation in the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass * Passage to (More Than) India: The Poetics and Politics of Whitman’s Textualization of the Orient * Conclusion: Representative Men

Editorial Reviews

'This deeply-informed study of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman in historical-ideological context offers the most persuasive assessment to date of the tangled symbiosis between the 'postcolonial' and 'imperial' dimensions of US Euro-settler literature during its formative period. Paryz demonstrates at once the pervasiveness of their respective preoccupations with issues of national destiny, their hesitancies concerning it, and the intellectual fertility of imagination arising from the unstable, inchoate admixture of aesthetic and sociocultural interests that competed with it. This achievement provides fresh confirmation, if further confirmation be needed, of the increasing percentage of innovative work in American Studies by scholars trained or working outside the United States.' - Lawrence Buell, Harvard University'Paryz reads critically the close relationship between postcolonial dependence and imperial ambition in the new US nation. His focus on Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman shows how liberal transcendentalism built its key ideas in response to powerful English influences and in support of US expansionist policies. This study of nineteenth-century US transnationalism by an important Polish scholar is further evidence of the value of internationalizing American Studies.' - John Carlos Rowe, USC Associates' Professor of the Humanities, University of Southern California