The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life

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University of Chicago Press, Aug 13, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 269 pages
Examining the complex relationships between the political, popular, sexual, and textual interests of Nathaniel Hawthorne's work, Lauren Berlant argues that Hawthorne mounted a sophisticated challenge to America's collective fantasy of national unity. She shows how Hawthorne's idea of citizenship emerged from an attempt to adjudicate among the official and the popular, the national and the local, the collective and the individual, utopia and history.

At the core of Berlant's work is a three-part study of The Scarlet Letter, analyzing the modes and effects of national identity that characterize the narrator's representation of Puritan culture and his construction of the novel's political present tense. This analysis emerges from an introductory chapter on American citizenship in the 1850s and a following chapter on national fantasy, ranging from Hawthorne's early work "Alice Doane's Appeal" to the Statue of Liberty. In her conclusion, Berlant suggests that Hawthorne views everyday life and local political identities as alternate routes to the revitalization of the political and utopian promises of modern national life.

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TWO The Paradise of Law
Conscience Popular
FOUR The Nationalist Preface
FIVE America in Everyday Life

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About the author (1991)

Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. Her many books include Cruel Optimism and (with Kathleen Stewart) The Hundreds.

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