Puget Sound English Department

November 2, 2009

A new “reference” for American Lit and Culture

Filed under: Literature,Uncategorized — ATH @ 2:23 pm
Tags: ,

bxp28370File this one under “I’ve-got-to-get-this-book.” Academic odd couple Greil Marcus (a cultural critic known for his groundbreaking work on the intellectual antecedents of rock music) and Werner Sollors (erudite, German-born race theorist) have joined forces to bring out a “new” look at the great moments and monuments of U.S. culture. A New Literary History of America promises to offer a fresh take on the significant events in our literary past, writ large, and to unseat the stodgy, establishment approach to some of our “great works,” ranging from Gatsby to Emily Dickinson’s poetry, Jackson Pollock, and hip hop.

It’s an ambitious undertaking of nearly 1100 pages, broken down into some 200+ essays, so I expect it to be somewhat uneven in approach and idiosyncratic in its historical coverage. Still, the project of re-imagining our shared past from some new vantage points–and especially the prospect of Ishmael Reed taking on the vexed racial politics of Twain’s Huck Finn is enough to get me to add this to my bookshelf.

Here’s a review essay from the LA Times, and here’s the Harvard UP link, which includes a full table of contents.

Have your review on my desk by the end of next week.

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