1st Edition

Doctrine and Difference The Thematic Scale of Classic American Literature

By Michael J. Colacurcio Copyright 2023

    Doctrine and Difference: The Thematic Scale of Classic American Literature aims to expand and deepen our knowledge into the inquiry of “contextual historicism,” observing writers of the American nineteenth century, and their vastly differing approaches to perceptions such as race, gender, and national identity. Ranging from the religious acuities of the first American Puritans to the more secularized literary awakening of the American Renaissance and into late-century texts that deliberately resist the limits of received religious and political opinion, this volume seeks to uncover a history of human thought within classic American Literature. This volume critically observes these survivable works of literature, presenting insight into the “difference” made by conversation, dispute, and dramatized self-doubt within novels and poems of the historical past.

    Preface: Literature, History, Politics, Philosophy

    1. "A Strange Poise of the Spirit": The Life and Deaths of Thomas Shepard

    2. Maypole and Surplice: Hawthorne and the (Re-)Writing of History

    3. Idealism as it Appears: Refractions of Emerson in Hawthorne’s Mosses

    4. "All but Madness": Blasphemy and Skepticism in Moby-Dick

    5. Taps of Drums and Pieces of Battles: Whitman and Melville on the Unwritten War

    6. Sage of Amherst: Dickinson as Part-time Transcendentalist

    7. Regional Men (Not So Much from Mars)

    8. Modern Instances: Love and Marriage after Hawthorne

    9. Democracy and Esther: Henry Adams’ Flirtation with Pragmatism


    Michael J. Colacurcio received his AB (1958) in Philosophy and MA (1959) in English from Xavier University in Cincinnati; taking his Ph.D. (1963) at the University of Illinois, he began teaching American Literature at Cornell University, winning a distinguished teaching award in 1974. Following a series of essays on classic American authors, he published his study of Hawthorne’s early tales, The Province of Piety (1984). Moving to UCLA in 1985, he brought out Doctrine and Difference: Studies in the Literature of New England in l997 with Routledge. He received a teaching award in 2001 and was promoted to Distinguished Professor in 2002; he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007. Godly Letters: Studies in the Literature of the American Puritans appeared in 2006. Religion and its Reformation in America, an anthology of religious texts from 1600 to 1730, appeared in 2020—as did a two-volume critical study called Emerson and Other Minds. Forthcoming is a volume of Colacurcio’s collected essays on Hawthorne called Hawthorne’s Histories, Hawthorne’s World and, in the planning stage, a monograph entitled Puritanism and American Literature.