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The Origins of American Literature Studies An Institutional History by Elizabeth (Professor, Ohio State University) Renker

The Origins of American Literature Studies An Institutional History


Part of the Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture Series


The Origins of American Literature Studies An Institutional History by Elizabeth (Professor, Ohio State University) Renker

Although American literature is a standard subject in the American college curriculum, a century ago few people thought it should be taught there. Elizabeth Renker uncovers the complex historical process through which American literature overcame its image of aesthetic and historical inferiority to become an important field for academic study and research. Renker's extensive original archival research focuses on four institutions of higher education serving distinct regional, class, race and gender populations. She argues that American literature's inferior image arose from its affiliation with non-elite schools, teachers and students, and that it had to overcome this social identity in order to achieve status as serious knowledge. Renker's revisionary analysis is an important contribution to the intellectual history of the United States and will be of interest to anyone studying, teaching or researching American literature.


What differentiates The Origins of American Literature Studies is its refinement of --and in some cases, challenge to--broad historical narratives, a contribution that stems from Renker's original and democratic professors of American literature continue to struggle for institutional resources, The Origins of American Literature Studies provides a nuanced and orignial history of such necessary work.

--The Minnesota Review

About the Author

Elizabeth Renker is Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th June 2010


Elizabeth (Professor, Ohio State University) Renker

More books by Elizabeth (Professor, Ohio State University) Renker
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Cambridge University Press


232 pages


Literary studies: general



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