The Vernacular Matters of American Literature

Hardcover | November 15, 2009

bySieglinde Lemke

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Vernacular Matters of American Literature blurs and dissolves existing lines of literary demarcation and responds to the unanswered call to practice a genuinely comparative approach to American Studies. Sieglinde Lemke examines three novels from distinct cultures and times, within their discrete ethnic contexts and with an understanding of their role in the American vernacular literary tradition. From this study of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Ana Castillo’s So Far From God, a new model for analyzing American literature emerges that highlights commonalities. From its focus on a previously ignored literary tradition, Vernacular Matters of American Literature reconfigures the map of American literature.

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Vernacular Matters of American Literature blurs and dissolves existing lines of literary demarcation and responds to the unanswered call to practice a genuinely comparative approach to American Studies. Sieglinde Lemke examines three novels from distinct cultures and times, within their discrete ethnic contexts and with an understandin...

Sieglinde Lemke is a Professor of American Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg. She is the author of Primitivist Modernism: Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism and the director of the Black Forest Writing Seminars.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.44 × 5.62 × 0.62 inPublished:November 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230620930

ISBN - 13:9780230620933

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Vernacular Adventures * Vernacular Scholarship * Vernacular Voices * Vernacular Values * Conclusion: Transformative Comparisons

Editorial Reviews

“Lemke's Vernacular Matters is an astonishingly insightful contribution to our understanding of the relation between vernacular language forms and the canon of American literature. But it also is a signal contribution to a meaningful new definition of how various and rich and multiple the traditions of ‘American’ literature in fact are today and have always been, at least since Huckleberry Finn. Lemke doesn't merely claim the existence of a comparative American literary tradition; she renders that definition through densely rich and delightfully readable close readings, demonstrating levels of influence across cultures and ethnicities in a manner that is new and refreshing and original.  Vernacular Matters is a major contribution to the study of what we should properly call Comparative American Literature, a must read for students and scholars alike.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University "Lemke has written a subtle and suggestive book that attempts to develop a new direction for American Studies.  Her nuanced approach to issues of race, nation, gender and generation results in a challenging and useful appeal to the concept of vernacularization.  There is a deep tone of hope and optimism in Lemke's Vernacular Matters."—Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University “Vernacular Matters is a truly ground-breaking work. Envisioning a democratic culture from the vantage point of the margins, Vernacular Matters transports readers and critics beyond disciplinary and cultural boundaries and opens up the search for what Lemke tellingly calls ‘vernacular humanism.’”—Donald Pease, Director, Futures of American Studies Institute, General Series Editor, New Americanists, and author of The New American Exceptionalism