West of Emerson: The Design of Manifest Destiny
Where did American literature start? The familiar story of Emerson and Thoreau has them setting up shop in Concord, Massachusetts, and determining the course of American writing. West of Emerson overhauls this story of origins as it shifts the context for these literary giants from the civilized East to the wide-open spaces of the Louisiana Purchase. Kris Fresonke tracks down the texts by explorers of the far West that informed Nature, Emerson's most famous essay, and proceeds to uncover the parodic Western politics at play in classic New England works of Romanticism. Westerns, this book shows, helped create "Easterns."
West of Emerson roughs up genteel literary history: Fresonke argues for a fresh mix of American literature, one based on the far reaches of American territory and American literary endeavor. Reading into the record the unexplored writings of Lewis and Clark, Zebulon Pike, Stephen Long, and William Emory, Fresonke forges surprising connections between the American West and the American visions emanating from the neighborhood of Walden Pond. These connections open a new view of the politics--and, by way of the notion of "design," the theological lineage—of manifest destiny. Finally, Fresonke's book shows how the cast of the American canon, no less than the direction of American politics, came to depend on what design one placed on the continent.
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aesthetic Amer American Literature American nature argument from design beauty Bercovitch border survey Burr Burr Conspiracy Cambridge chapter Christian claims Columbus conquest culture Democrats described desert design argument discovery Emerson and Thoreau Emory Emory's England essay evidence expansion expedition exploration narratives Federalist Gass genre Harvard University Press Henry David Thoreau Henry Thoreau Idealism imagine Indian insistence intellectual Irving Irving's Jacksonian Jacksonian Democracy Jefferson John Journals land Lewis and Clark liberal literary logic Long Long's look manifest destiny Meriwether Lewis Mexican Mexico mind moral natural history lectures nineteenth century notes observer Paley party pastoral Patrick Gass philosophical picturesque travel Pike's poem political proof Puritan Ralph Waldo Emerson rhetoric Rhodora Romantic ruins seems sense simply skepticism Slavery in Massachusetts Stephen territory theory tion Transcendental ture turesque Unitarian Voyage Walden Walking Western westward Whig William writing York Zebulon Pike