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Culture, Genre, and Literary Vocation

Selected Essays on American Literature

In Culture, Genre, and Literary Vocation, Michael Davitt Bell charts the important and often overlooked connection between literary culture and authors’ careers. Bell’s influential essays on nineteenth-century American writers—originally written for such landmark projects as The Columbia Literary History of the United States and The Cambridge History of American Literature—are gathered here with a major new essay on Richard Wright.

Throughout, Bell revisits issues of genre with an eye toward the unexpected details of authors’ lives, and invites us to reconsider the hidden functions that terms such as "romanticism" and "realism" served for authors and their critics. Whether tracing the demands of the market or the expectations of readers, Bell examines the intimate relationship between literary production and culture; each essay closely links the milieu in which American writers worked with the trajectory of their storied careers.

256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2000

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Table of Contents

Selected List of Publications
Introduction: "Culture," New Historicism, and the Sociology of Literary Vocation
I. Hawthorne
1. Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. Arts of Deception: Hawthorne, "Romance," and The Scarlet Letter
3. The House of the Seven Gables
II. Conditions of Literary Vocation
4. Beginnings of Professionalism
5. Women’s Fiction and the Literary Marketplace in the 1850s
III. African-American Writing and the Legacy of the "Protest" Debate
6. African-American Writing, "Protest," and the Burden of Naturalism: The Case of Native Son

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