1st Edition

Doctrine and Difference Readings in Classic American Literature

By Michael J. Colacurcio Copyright 2021
    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.



    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).