Author(s): Branka Arsic
American Impersonal brings together some of the most influential scholars now working in American literature to explore the impact of one of America's leading literary critics: Sharon Cameron. It engages directly with certain arguments that Cameron has articulated throughout her career, most notably her late work on the question of impersonality. In doing so, it provides responses to questions fundamental to literary criticism, such as: the nature of personhood; the logic of subjectivity in depersonalized communities; the question of the human within the problematic of the impersonal; how impersonality relates to the "posthuman." Additionally, some essays respond to the current "aesthetic turn" in literary scholarship and engage with the lyric, currently much debated, as well as the larger questions of poetics and the logic of genre. These crucial issues are addressed from the perspective of an American literary and philosophical tradition, and progress chronologically, starting from Melville and Emerson and moving via Dickinson, Thoreau and Hawthorne to Henry James and Wallace Stevens.
This historical perspective adds the appeal of revisiting the American nineteenth-century literary and philosophical tradition, and even rewriting it.
A survey of the recent history of American literary criticism through the ideas of one of its leading exponents: Sharon Cameron.
Coiling and uncoiling, at once lucid and unrecognizable, these essays turn what is marvelous in Sharon Cameron into a collective marvel. -- Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of English & American Studies, Yale University, USA A remarkable-and remarkably diverse-collection of essays that registers the singular influence of Sharon Cameron's unique body of work on how we read, and write about, American literature. The very spine of that canon-from Edwards to Melville, Emerson and Dickinson to James, Stevens and more-is represented here in readings that call upon us to reimagine the ethics of literature and aesthetic experience in light of Cameron's searching meditations on the "impersonal." -- Cary Wolfe, Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English, Rice University, USA
Branka Arsic is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, USA. She is the author of On Leaving, A Reading in Emerson (2010) and The Passive Constitutions, 71/2 Times Bartleby (2007). She has co-edited (with Cary Wolfe) a collection of essays on Emerson, entitled The Other Emerson (2001).
Preface Introduction Chapter 1: James D. Lilley - Being Singularly Impersonal: Jonathan Edwards and the Aesthetics of Consent Chapter 2: Colin Dayan - Melville's Creatures, or Seeing Otherwise Chapter 3: Paul Grimstad - On Ecstasy: Sharon Cameron's Reading of Emerson Chapter 4: Johannes Voelz - The Recognition of Emerson's Impersonal: Reading Alternatives in Sharon Cameron Chapter 5: Vesna Kuiken - On the Matter of Thinking: Margaret Fuller's Beautiful Work Chapter 6: George Kateb - Reading Nature Chapter 7: Branka Arsic - What Music Shall We Have? Thoreau on the Aesthetics and Politics of Listening Chapter 8: Kerry Larson - Hawthorne's Fictional Commitments: The Early Tales Chapter 9: Theo Davis - Hawthorne's Rage: On Form and the Dharma Chapter 10: Shira Wolosky - Formal, New, and Relational Aesthetics: Dickinson's Multitexts Chapter 11: Michael Moon - Beyond Sense: Portraits and Objects in Henry James's Late Writings Chapter 12: Shari Goldberg - Believing in Maud-Evelyn: Henry James and the Obligation to Ghosts Chapter 13: Mark Noble - The Ends of Imagination: Stevens' Impersonal Note on Contributors Index