Download E Pluribus Unum: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and by W. C. Harris PDF

By W. C. Harris

"Out of many, one." yet how do the numerous turn into one with out sacrificing distinction or autonomy? This challenge was once severe to either identification formation and nation formation in overdue 18th- and 19th-century the US. the basis of this e-book is that American writers of the time got here to view the solution of this imperative philosophical challenge as not the specific province of legislative or judicial records yet in a position to being addressed via literary texts in addition. The venture of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying trouble is the final philosophic challenge of the single and the numerous because it got here to be understood on the time. W. C. Harris provides a close account of the family tree of the concept that, exploring either its purposes and its paradoxes as a foundation for nation and id formation. Harris then considers the perilous integration of the only and the numerous as a reason within the significant literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon serious in addition to old assets and upon contexts as different as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses makes an attempt by means of Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to unravel the issues of social development attributable to the ambiguity of e pluribus unum by way of writing literary and philosophical texts that complement the nation's political founding files. Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The sorts of non secular event) offer their very own designated, occasionally contradictory resolutions to the conflicting calls for of range and team spirit, equality and hierarchy. every one of those texts is familiar with literary and philosophical writing as having the capability to transform--conceptually or actually--the development of social order. This paintings may be of serious curiosity to literary and constitutional students.

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Additional resources for E Pluribus Unum: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Constitutional Paradox

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James is simply taking the idea of sola scriptura, which underwrites American religious formation as a whole, to its extreme but inevitable, zero-grade outcome: a state of affairs in which everybody and nobody has institutional access, in which there are no more shared or common institutions because everyone has his own institution. ” The hard problem of unity becomes, by James’s time (and by Melville’s later period), no longer the pressing concern, the soteriological, redemptive enterprise it is for Poe, Whitman, and the early Melville.

He charts edgar allan poe 39 the differentiation of matter from a single initial particle into many particles; he describes the laws governing the formation and behavior of bodies. But he does so in terms that highlight not only the longstanding analogy in the West between cosmic and social order but also the problems they share. In both cases, one is faced with a seemingly irreconcilable set of alternatives: absolute unity at the expense of difference (and thus equality) or absolute equality (which requires differentiation) at the expense of unity.

Then, as if sweeping away all previous categorizations, Poe insists that it be judged “as a Poem only” (pt 1259). Poe’s presentation of Eureka as a text that satisfies the criteria of several different genres and then, finally, “as a Poem only” can be read as a kind of generic recruitment,an attempt by one genre (poetry) to encompass many others. This recruitment is hardly final, and the text’s refusal to settle within a single genre is meaningful enough to be pursued later in this chapter. For the time being, however, let us take Poe at his word (that Eureka is a poem), for our compliance permits us to see what work the author imagines poetry as doing: dissolving generic and disciplinary boundaries (boundaries separating literature from science and the literary from the social) and consequently getting at the mechanism of American social formation by addressing the terms of its foundation.

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