Atlantic Citizens

Atlantic Citizens: Nineteenth-Century American Writers at Work in the World

LESLIE ELIZABETH ECKEL
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt3fgqtp
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  • Book Info
    Atlantic Citizens
    Book Description:

    By looking beyond the page and into the extraordinary lives of Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Grace Greenwood, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller and Frederick Douglass, this book uncovers their startling contributions to transatlantic culture and makes the argument that literature is dependent upon other modes of professional creativity in order to thrive.Leslie Elizabeth Eckel shows how these six figures shaped their careers in the fields of education, journalism, public lecturing and editing in productive relation to their development as imaginative writers. To see Walt Whitman co-producing foreign editions of his work with British poets while exuberantly breaking free from verse strictures on the page, or to witness Margaret Fuller reporting from the battle ground in revolutionary Rome as well as writing her country’s first feminist treatise is to comprehend more deeply the ways in which these writers acted in the transatlantic sphere. By practicing Atlantic citizenship, they were able to achieve critical distance from the United States and, paradoxically, to catalyse its ongoing growth.Key FeaturesQuestions the American" identity of representative authors

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-6938-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE VOCATIONAL ROUTES OF AMERICAN LITERATURE
    (pp. 1-18)

    It should come as no surprise to those who know Walt Whitman that the poet chose to mark the United States centennial in 1876 by celebrating himself. As he prepared the ‘Centennial Edition’ of Leaves of Grass for distribution at home and abroad, he composed a ‘personal’ letter ‘To the Foreign Reader’ of his works. In this letter, which he intended to serve as a preface to the edition, Whitman planned to ‘enfold the world’ with his words and to bind its varied nations and peoples together with ‘new formulas, international poems’.¹ His vision of a new world order of...

  5. CHAPTER 1 LONGFELLOW AND THE VOLUME OF THE WORLD
    (pp. 19-45)

    In one of the most memorable episodes of modernist condescension to a Victorian predecessor, Ludwig Lewisohn spat, ‘Who, except wretched schoolchildren, now reads Longfellow?’¹ Lewisohn himself may have faded from view, but his impression of Longfellow as a ‘schoolroom poet’, fit solely for the gentle moral instruction of the young rather than the edification of those who know better, remains ours today. Longfellow’s didacticism is now accepted fact, and most critics see it as an obstacle to the serious academic study of his poetry. Edward Wagenknecht has observed, ‘Neither Longfellow’s “sentimentalism” nor his didacticism is a very profitable subject for...

  6. CHAPTER 2 FULLER’S CONVERSATIONAL JOURNALISM: NEW YORK, LONDON, ROME
    (pp. 46-70)

    When Margaret Fuller left New York for Europe in August of 1846, many of her contemporaries assumed that she had abandoned the United States permanently and that her dispatches from London, Paris, and revolutionary Rome signalled her turn away from a national agenda in literature and criticism. The fact that Fuller herself never returned to American shores has led scholars to conclude that the body of her journalistic work overseas, like her physical body, could not be ‘repatriated’.¹ In this chapter, I contend that Fuller’s continuous participation in the work of making American culture at home and abroad marks her...

  7. CHAPTER 3 ‘A TYPE OF HIS COUNTRYMEN’: DOUGLASS AND TRANSATLANTIC PRINT CULTURE
    (pp. 71-98)

    In Frederick Douglass’s only fictional work, the 1853 novella The Heroic Slave, he retells the story of an actual slave revolt aboard the American ship Creole in 1841. Douglass imagines a tavern conversation in which the first mate recounts the ship’s collapse under the rhetorical weight of the revolutionary argument made by Madison Washington, the novella’s hero. In response to a friend’s boasts that he could have quelled the rebellion single-handedly, the first mate comments:

    It is quite easy to talk of flogging n-----s here on land, where you have the sympathy of the community, and the whole physical force...

  8. CHAPTER 4 BETWEEN COSMOS AND COSMOPOLIS: EMERSON’S NATIONAL CRITICISM
    (pp. 99-126)

    For most of the twentieth century, scholars and reviewers equated Emerson with ‘America’, and treated his writings accordingly as manifestations of an original and national way of thinking about the self and its relation to society. Emerson stands at the confluence of the American past and the present, for he is perceived both as the ‘inventor’ of a modern national tradition in poetry and philosophy and as the inheritor of Puritan perfectionism and early republican pragmatism.¹ Emerson’s title of ‘Mr. America’ seems almost infinitely renewable, and the value of his works for definitions of American national identity and character seem...

  9. CHAPTER 5 THE PROFESSIONAL PILGRIM: GREENWOOD SELLS THE TRANSATLANTIC EXPERIENCE
    (pp. 127-152)

    Who is ‘Grace Greenwood’? Dismissed as one of a great ‘mob of scribbling women’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1855, relegated to the historical background of the antebellum literary world by foundational critics F. O. Matthiessen and Fred Louis Pattee, and then further marginalised by feminist scholars for employing sentimental language, Sara Jane Clarke Lippincott, or ‘Grace Greenwood’, as she was known to her reading public, has virtually disappeared from the drama of American literary innovation in which she once played a powerfully ‘paradigmatic’ role.¹ An inheritor of Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s gift for travel writing, Lydia Maria Child’s skill in magazine...

  10. CHAPTER 6 STANDING UPON AMERICA: WHITMAN AND THE PROFESSION OF NATIONAL POETRY
    (pp. 153-180)

    In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote the poem that literally built the foundation of an American icon: the Statue of Liberty. Her sonnet ‘The New Colossus’, in which she allows the nation to speak in the voice of the ‘Mother of Exiles’, reflects a number of literary influences and political agendas that actually do more to disrupt a sense of shared national purpose than to confirm its now familiar platitudes.¹ In her early years, Lazarus formed an unexpectedly strong bond with Emerson, who urged her to read the work of Thoreau and Whitman. She responded eagerly to their writing, telling Emerson...

  11. AFTERWORD: VOCATION OR VACATION? TRANSATLANTIC PROFESSIONALISM NOW
    (pp. 181-188)

    As Whitman and his contemporaries worked to shape a transatlantic future for American literature, they imagined modes of political cooperation and activated professional networks that persist well into the twentieth century and beyond. Mark Twain, Henry James, and Edith Wharton would travel familiar routes to the European capitals once frequented by Longfellow, Fuller, Douglass, Emerson, and Greenwood, asserting their equal rights to define their American literary careers in a transatlantic context. They tended to stay longer and to dig deeper into European culture than their antebellum predecessors, turning what had begun as an imaginative experiment into a lived reality by...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 189-215)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 216-229)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 230-240)