This article discusses the American constitutional elegy. It argues that American national difference in literature can be tracked in the terms of its engagement with specifically American constitutional principles, concentrating on the national period, beginning in the late eighteenth century with the Revolutionary War and sketching the story up to the present day. It then returns to the great theme of elegy as a flexible form and its practices under persistent self-scrutiny. All choral poetry carries with it an association with the choruses of ancient, especially Athenian, tragedy and thus with the common understanding that the chorus speaks as or on behalf of a democratic citizenry. Marilyn Hacker has written a ‘constitutional elegy’ in the great American tradition, a tradition that continues to challenge our principled commitment to the legal and symbolic bonds of ‘adjacent difference’ in a rights-based national polity.
Hannah Lauren Murray
This chapter examines the state of the field of Charles Brockden Brown studies since 2000. Taking a thematic approach, I discuss four dominant strands in twenty-first-century criticism: geographies, medical humanities, economies, and aesthetics. These sections cover the scholarly debate over a transnational, imperial, or postcolonial Brown; consider the new ways in which early national medicine intersects with his fiction; chart the rise of market and class-based criticism; and discuss a return to formal concerns in light of the aesthetic or postcritique turn. The final section of this chapter looks ahead to emergent trends in future Brown scholarship in response to the previous decade’s work.
Philip Barnard, Hilary Emmett, and Stephen Shapiro
The Oxford Handbook of Charles Brockden Brown provides an up-to-date survey of the life of and full range of writings by Charles Brockden Brown (1771–1810), a key writer of the Atlantic revolutionary age and the early American republic. Through the late twentieth century, Brown was best known as an important author of political romances in the Gothic mode that were widely influential in the Romantic era and has generated large amounts of scholarship as a crucial figure in the history of the American novel. More recent work recognizes him likewise as an influential editor, historian, and writer in other genres such as poetry, short fiction, and essays and as a figure whose work resonated throughout the Atlantic world of the revolutionary age. The Oxford Handbook’s thirty-five chapters build on the research of the most recent scholarly generation to introduce readers to Brown and explore his wide-ranging work.
Examining oratory as a dynamic, changing medium for communication during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in America and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain, this essay scrutinizes several of its most important sites of performance: religion, politics, social reform, performance, and education. In each of those arenas, oratory helped to fuel some of most exciting social and political changes of the era by reconceptualizing ideas about the relationship between leaders and the public, the notion of rhetorical persuasion, and the importance of public opinion. An exceptionally interdisciplinary set of scholarship on the subject has done much to invigorate the study of oratory in recent years, and yet this field lacks an intellectual center from which scholars might move beyond individual studies to conceptualize the larger significance of oratory across all sites of performance.