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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2024
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Book description

From the country's beginning, essayists in the United States have used their prose to articulate the many ways their individuality has been shaped by the politics, social life, and culture of this place. The Cambridge History of the American Essay offers the fullest account to date of this diverse and complex history. From Puritan writings to essays by Indigenous authors, from Transcendentalist and Pragmatist texts to Harlem Renaissance essays, from New Criticism to New Journalism: The story of the American essay is told here, beginning in the early eighteenth century and ending with the vibrant, heterogeneous scene of contemporary essayistic writing. The essay in the US has taken many forms: nature writing, travel writing, the genteel tradition, literary criticism, hybrid genres such as the essay film and the photo essay. Across genres and identities, this volume offers a stirring account of American essayism into the twenty-first century.

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