Doctrine and Difference
Readings in Classic American Literature
Doctrine and Difference: Readings in Classic American Literature aims to expand and deepen the inquiry begun in the volume from 2007. Beginning with an essay on the avowedly Puritan poetry of Anne Bradstreet and ending with two not-quite-secular novels from late in the 19th century, this volume seeks to uncover the religious and philosophical meanings deeply embedded in so much of 19th century American literature, and then, importantly, to identify and analyze the techniques by which the "doctrines" are differentiated into imaginative literature. Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville—and yes, even Howells and James—are driven by powerful thematic intentions. But they do not preach: they dramatize. And, as they talk their way through their existential issues, they often talk to one another: yes, no, maybe, ok but not so fast. Stressing the idea of a shared, poet-Puritan inheritance, the new Doctrine and Difference means to re-confirm the vitality of literary history and, in particular, the importance of reading the classic texts of American literature in context and in relation.
Table of Contents
01. MAKING CONSCIENCE, TRUSTING GOD: The (Almost) Weaned Affections of Anne Bradstreet
02. COSMOPOLITAN AND PROVINCIAL: Hawthorne and the Reference of American Studies
03. "SUPERNAL LOVELINESS" AND "FANTASTIC FOOLERY": The Aesthetic in Poe and Hawthorne
04. CONSCIOUSNESS AND ASCRIPTION: Emerson and the Scandal of the Subject
05. "LIFE WITHIN THE LIFE": Sin and Self in Hawthorne’s New England
06. THE SOUTH SEAS IN MELVILLE: Genre, Myth (and Sex) in Typee, Omoo, Mardi
07. "ARTIFICIAL FIRE": Melville and the Mythology of "Ethan Brand"
08. INHERITANCE, REPETITION, COMPLICITY, REDEMPTION: Sin and Salvation in The House of the Seven Gables
09. CHARITY AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Pity and Politics in Melville’s Short Fiction
10. "THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE SEASONS": Climax and Confirmation in the Plot of Walden
11. "OUR CONVERSATION WITH NATURE": Emerson’s Cave and Plato’s "Allegory"
12. "MEAN OR UNAMIABLE PEOPLE": Manners, Morals (and Grace?) in The Rise of Silas Lapham and The American
Michael J. Colacurcio was born in Cincinnati and educated there by Jesuits. He took his Ph.D. at Illinois in 1963 and went to work at Cornell, moving to UCLA in 1985, where he is now a Distinguished Professor. Winner of teaching awards at both universities and, since 2007, a member of the American Society of Arts and Sciences, his works include The Province of Piety (1985), Doctrine and Difference (1997), Godly Letters (2006), and Emerson and Other Minds (2020).