The Turn Around Religion in America : Literature, Culture, and the Work of Sacvan Bercovitch book cover
1st Edition

The Turn Around Religion in America
Literature, Culture, and the Work of Sacvan Bercovitch

ISBN 9781138268777
Published November 24, 2016 by Routledge
488 Pages

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Book Description

Playing on the frequently used metaphors of the 'turn toward' or 'turn back' in scholarship on religion, The Turn Around Religion in America offers a model of religion that moves in a reciprocal relationship between these two poles. In particular, this volume dedicates itself to a reading of religion and of religious meaning that cannot be reduced to history or ideology on the one hand or to truth or spirit on the other, but is rather the product of the constant play between the historical particulars that manifest beliefs and the beliefs that take shape through them. Taking as their point of departure the foundational scholarship of Sacvan Bercovitch, the contributors locate the universal in the ongoing and particularized attempts of American authors from the seventeenth century forward to get it - whatever that 'it' might be - right. Examining authors as diverse as Pietro di Donato, Herman Melville, Miguel Algarin, Edward Taylor, Mark Twain, Robert Keayne, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Paule Marshall, Stephen Crane, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Joseph B. Soloveitchik, among many others-and a host of genres, from novels and poetry to sermons, philosophy, history, journalism, photography, theater, and cinema-the essays call for a discussion of religion's powers that does not seek to explain them as much as put them into conversation with each other. Central to this project is Bercovitch's emphasis on the rhetoric, ritual, typology, and symbology of religion and his recognition that with each aesthetic enactment of religion's power, we learn something new.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword: the turn around: a panoramic view of religion in American literature, Nan Goodman; Part 1 Universals: Built into the system: where protest lies in Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete, Margaret Reid; Cosmopolitanism and Zoroastrianism in Moby-Dick, Cyrus R.K. Patell; Miguel Algarín's 'nuyorican angels' of night and the critique of enwhitened idealism, María DeGuzmán; Body and spirit in Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow and James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, Emory Elliott; The pious duties of Romantic historiography, Giuseppe Nori; Religion and the lonely subject: a note on Emerson's idealism, Michael J. Colacurcio; The Puritan in the photograph, Laura Wexler; Bad fathering in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jeanne Campbell Reesman; The Halachic Judaism of Emerson and Thoreau: a Freudian, Cavellian, and Bercovitchean perspective on the religious conduct of American life and liberty, Emily Miller Budick; Biblical typology and the Jewish American imagination, Michael P. Kramer; Robert Keaynes Nails, or a mercantilist's view of Christian charity, Nan Goodman. Part 2 Particularities: 'The God that was missing': poetry, divinity, everydayness, Irene Ramalho Santos; Playing God with beauty: from Hawthorne to Hairspray, Wendy Steiner; Politics, religion, and some poems about Sacco and Vanzetti, Lawrence Rosenwald; Edward Taylor's American Hebraism, Shira Wolosky; Depression journalism, social actuality, and the quest for salvation, Morris Dickstein; Levinas, ethics, and dissensus in the cinema of redemption, Sam B. Girgus; Hell in Mexican Texas: Stephen Crane at the American abyss, Jaime Javier Rodríguez; German, Jewish, American: magic words that define Judaism in the Cincinnati Deborah, Werner Sollors; Demythologizing America: Nathanael West and Sacvan Bercovitch, Donald Weber; The ironic style of Sacvan Bercovitch, Andrew DuBois; Afterword: turn, turn, turn: on Sacvan Bercovitch, Ecclesiastes, and American literary study, Michael P. Kramer; Works cited; Index.

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Nan Goodman is Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, and Michael P. Kramer is Professor Haver in the Department of English at Bar-Ilan University, Israel.


'...this collection addresses Bercovitch’s characteristic themes during a long career at Columbia and, ultimately, Harvard...This reviewer cannot imagine the Americanist who will not need to refer to this book at least once in his/her career...Highly recommended.' Choice ’This volume testifies to the productivity of thinking through scrupulously imaginative textual analysis to understand the many ways religious sensibility and structures have functioned in the history of the United States, from its colonial past into its multicultural present, and in doing this it demonstrates the vital power of Sacvan Bercovitch’s body of work.’ Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh, USA