New England literary culture from revolution through renaissance


New England literary culture from revolution through renaissance

Lawrence Buell

(Cambridge studies in American literature and culture)

Cambridge University Press, 1986

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Bibliography: p. 399-497

Includes index




This book is a study of the development of New England literature and literary institutions from the American Revolutionary era to the late nineteenth century. Professor Buell explores the foundations, growth and literary results of the professionalization of the writing vocation. He pays particular attention to the major writers - Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Stowe and Dickinson - but surveys them with a number of lesser-known authors, and explores the conventions, values and institutions which affected them all. Some of the main topics covered include the distinctive features of the Early National and Antebellum periods in New England writing; the importance of certain literary genres (poetry, oratory and religious narrative; etc.); the impact of Puritanism and its values; and the invention of acceptable conventions for portraying the New England landscape and institutions in literature.


  • Part I. Four Overviews: 1. Theoretical premises
  • 2. A narrative overview of New England's literary development
  • 3. Marketplace, ethos, practice: the Antebellum literary situation
  • 4. Neoclassical continuities: the early national era and the New England literary tradition
  • Part II. Three Representative Genres: 5. New England Poetics: Emerson, Dickinson, and others
  • 6. New England oratory from Everett to Emerson
  • 7. Literary scripturism
  • Part III. Reinventing Puritanism: the New England Historical Imagination: 8. The concept of puritan ancestry
  • 9. The politics of historiography
  • 10. Fictionalizing puritan history: some problems and approaches
  • 11. Hawthorne and Stowe as rival interpreters of New England Puritanism
  • Part IV. New England as a Country of the Imagination: The Spirit of Place: 12. The cultural landscape in regional poetry and prose
  • 13. The village as icon
  • 14. Lococentrism from Dwight to Thoreau
  • 15. Comic grotesque
  • 16. Provincial Gothic: Hawthorne, Stoddard, and others
  • Postscript
  • Appendix. Vital statistics: a quantitative analysis of authorship as a profession in New England.

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