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American Literature Before Civil War Essay

1410 words - 6 pages

Jazzmin Te
American Military University
LITR 220
Constance Bracewell
February 9, 2013
American Literature before the civil war
In reference to Burt (p.11), the romantic idealism about American writing gave way to a realistic perspective on what America had become under the pressure of war and expansion as well as the acceleration of technological, economic and social change. In reference to Selcer (p.26), American Literature Library has thousands of short stories and classic novels for everyone to enjoy. In reference to Selcer (p.65), organizations devoted to the study of American authors include a directory of member- societies, and membership and event ...view middle of the document...

This was in the form of women studies, gay and lesbian studies. In reference to Hewitt (p.14), artists were not merely seismometers of their societies, sensitively registering the tremors of change. They were simply that change, that molten force on the brink of bursting forth.
According to Burt (p.123), throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, artists, authored, scientists, and theologians were obsessed with volcanic activity, many of them making regular visits to the geological curiosities. Burt (p.145), the volcano was a central and defining metaphor for these men, appearing so prevalently and pervasively in their paintings, sermons and magazine articles that one quickly began to suspect there was more at stake than geology. In reference to Hewitt (p.41), the fascination of various authors with volcanoes was by no means personal. To Europeans of the late eighteenth century, the volcano reflected the turbulent energies of revolution. Some conservative authors loudly condemned the volcanic revolution across the channel and warned that hasty political transformations had the capacity to produce violent eruptions.
According to Hewitt (p.52), on the other hand, romantic authors rejected soon rejected this version of the volcano and discovered in it an image of them: creative, protean and proactive. To make the world new through poetry or art required the destruction of a fallen, corrupt world. It required the volatile re-creation of the world through molten imagination. According to Hewitt (p.10), in the United States, the fascination with volcanoes took on an indigenous character that of the sublimity of nature combining with a sense of national purpose to form what literary scholars termed as renaissance of artistic creativity. According to Burt (p.21), the American author who identified herself mostly with the volcano was Emily Dickinson. She confessed that she had never seen volcanoes but went ahead to add her convincing description of their capacity for pain and destruction. Butt (p.9) continues to point out that, Dickinson compared her work of poetry to a still volcano which is quiet in the interior but burning outside and that may erupt any time. Dickinson was particularly attracted to the volcano’s unfettered force, its power to remake the world through time shattering self-liberation.
According to Selcer (p.45), not all of the era’s references to the volcano were so personal or so poetic. The bitter fact of slavery that had, which had distracted political and social life since the nation’s inception was also figured as a volcano. In reference to Selcer (p.65), the fallacy of enslaving human beings on the basis of skin color prompted him to ask several questions. She went on to claim that the slave holders were sleeping on slumbering volcanoes if at all they did but they knew it. On the other hand, Burt (p.32) argues that, there was the talk of a great volcano of the civil war that erupted in the middle of...

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