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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines how American literature might be situated in a modern world system of the racialized Atlantic world, focusing on Toni Morrison's A Mercy. It argues that Morrison's 2008 novel meditates powerfully on nineteenth-century American literary history and contends that Morrison's novel can speak as productively to the topic of nineteenth-century American literature as can a novel by James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, or Herman Melville. The article explains that A Mercy stages a series of critical insights into the disciplinary moment of the early twenty-first century, allowing us to acknowledge and to reevaluate the distinct and often competing transatlantic and hemispheric trajectories our field has developed for comprehending the long nineteenth century of the American literary past.

Keywords: American literature, racialized Atlantic world, Toni Morrison, A Mercy, literary history, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville

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