Tag Archives: Canon

“Making America”: On A New Literary History of America*

The number of people who have read a single literary history from cover to cover may be smaller than the number of literary histories that have been published. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such histories became popular, providing information about the lives, works, reception, and influence of single authors, facts that were strung together chronologically in the form of long narratives that employed a limited number of available story lines, such as growth or decline, a golden age, a transitional period or a renaissance, lonely figures and literary movements, avant-garde and epigonal works, major and emergent voices, or currents and eddies coming together to form a main stream. Such reference works have been less often read than consulted by students who wanted to catch a quick glimpse of authors, works, movements, or periods in their historical contexts.

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