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The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in American Literature


Part of Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: May 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521035903

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About the Authors
  • Mary Esteve provides a study of crowd representations in American literature from the antebellum era to the early twentieth century. As a central icon of political and cultural democracy, the crowd occupies a prominent place in the American literary and cultural landscape. Esteve examines a range of writing by Poe, Hawthorne, Lydia Maria Child, Du Bois, James, and Stephen Crane among others. These writers, she argues, distinguish between the aesthetics of immersion in a crowd and the mode of collectivity demanded of political-liberal subjects. In their representations of everyday crowds, ranging from streams of urban pedestrians to swarms of train travellers, from upper-class parties to lower-class revivalist meetings, such authors seize on the political problems facing a mass liberal democracy - problems such as the stipulations of citizenship, nation formation, mass immigration and the emergence of mass media. Esteve examines both the aesthetic and political meanings of such urban crowd scenes.

    • Covers a wide range of texts from 1840–1930
    • Treats both the aesthetic and political dimensions of crowd representation
    • The methodology combines close reading, theoretical analysis and historical contextualisation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd offers both an authoritative and informative analysis of the role of the crowed in American literature as well as a sequence of original and compelling readings of canonical authors.' Journal of American Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521035903
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.417kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. When travellers swarm forth: antebellum urban aesthetics and the contours of the political
    2. In 'the thick of the stream': Henry James and the public sphere
    3. A 'gorgeous neutrality': social justice and Stephen Crane's documentary anaesthetics
    4. Vicious gregariousness: white city, the nation form and the souls of lynched folk
    5. A 'moving mosaic': Harlem, primitivism and Nella Larsen's Quicksand
    6. Breaking the waves: mass immigration, trauma and ethno-political consciousness in Cahan, Yezierska and Roth

  • Author

    Mary Esteve, Concordia University, Montréal
    Mary Esteve is Assistant Professor in the English Department at Concordia University, Montréal. Her work has appeared in ELH, American Literary History, and Genre.

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