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This introduction lays out the primary contributions of the volume as a whole, loosely organizing the essays under the umbrella of three themes: form and genre, networks, and methods for living. The introduction also charts major shifts in the composition of nineteenth-century American literary studies, including changes in major methods, archives, and historical foci.
This volume presents a complex portrait of the United States of America grappling with the trials of national adolescence. Topics include (but are not limited to): the dynamics of language and power, the treachery of memory, the lived experience of racial and economic inequality, the aesthetics of Indigeneity, the radical possibilities of disability, the fluidity of gender and sexuality, the depth and culture-making power of literary genre, the history of poetics, the cult of performance, and the hidden costs of foodways. Taken together, the essays offer a vision of a vibrant, contradictory, and conflicted early US Republic resistant to consensus accountings and poised to inform new and better origin stories for the polity to come.
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