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Correspondence and American Literature, 1770-1865 by Elizabeth (Ohio State University) Hewitt


Correspondence and American Literature, 1770-1865 by Elizabeth (Ohio State University) Hewitt

Elizabeth Hewitt uncovers the centrality of letter-writing to antebellum American literature. She argues that many canonical American authors turned to the epistolary form as an idealised genre through which to consider the challenges of American democracy before the Civil War. The letter was the vital technology of social intercourse in the nineteenth century and was adopted as an exemplary genre in which authors from Crevecoeur and Adams through Jefferson, to Emerson, Melville, Dickinson and Whitman, could theorise the social and political themes that were so crucial to their respective literary projects. They interrogated the political possibilities of social intercourse through the practice and analysis of correspondence. Hewitt argues that although correspondence is generally only conceived as a biographical archive, it must instead be understood as a significant genre through which these early authors made sense of social and political relations in the nation.


Review of the hardback: '... absorbing ...
Journal of American Studies

About the Author

Elizabeth Hewitt is Assistant Professor of English at The Ohio State University.

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Book Info

Publication date

17th December 2009


Elizabeth (Ohio State University) Hewitt

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Cambridge University Press


244 pages


Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800
Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900



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