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Voicing America

Language, Literary Form, and the Origins of the United States

How is a nation brought into being? In a detailed examination of crucial texts of eighteenth-century American literature, Christopher Looby argues that the United States was self-consciously enacted through the spoken word. Historical material informs and animates theoretical texts by Derrida, Lacan, and others as Looby unravels the texts of Benjamin Franklin, Charles Brockden Brown, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge and connects them to nation-building, political discourse, and self-creation. Correcting the strong emphasis on the importance of print culture in eighteenth-century America, Voicing America uncovers the complex process of early American writers articulating their new nation and reveals a body of literature and a political discourse thoroughly concerned with the power of vocal language.

295 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1996

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Table of Contents

1: Logocracy in America
2: "The Affairs of the Revolution Occasion’d the Interruption": Self, Language, and Nation in Franklin’s Autobiography
3: "The Very Act of Utterance": Law, Language, and Legitimation in Brown’s Wieland
4: "Tongues of People Altercating With One Another": Language, Text and Society in Brackenridge’s Modern Chivalry
5: Coda: The Voice of Patrick Henry

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