Cultural Secrets as Narrative Form: Storytelling in Nineteenth-century America

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Ohio State University Press, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 259 pages
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Cultural Secrets as Narrative Form: Storytelling in Nineteenth-Century America examines the interplay between the familiar and the forgotten in tales of America's first century as a nation. By studying both the common concerns and the rising tensions between the known and the unknown, the told and the untold, this book offers readers new insight into the making of a nation through stories. Here, identity is built not so much through the winnowing competition of perspectives as through the cumulative layering of stories, derived from sources as diverse as rumors circulating in early patriot newspapers and the highest achievements of aesthetic culture. And yet this is not a source study: the interaction of texts is reciprocal, and the texts studied are not simply complementary but often jarring in their interrelations. The result is a new model of just how some of America's central episodes of self-definition -- the Puritan legacy, the Revolutionary War, and the Western frontier -- have achieved near mythic force in the national imagination. The most powerful myths of national identity, this author argues, are not those that erase historical facts but those able to transform such facts into their own deep resources. Book jacket.
 

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Contents

III
1
IV
3
V
12
VI
36
VII
49
VIII
69
IX
71
X
81
XIII
133
XIV
135
XV
144
XVI
160
XVII
177
XVIII
193
XIX
235
XX
251

XI
98
XII
106

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About the author (2004)

Reid is assistant professor of English at Providence College.

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