Emergent Worlds

Emergent Worlds

Alternative States in Nineteenth-Century American Culture

America and the Long 19th Century

by Edward Sugden

Published by: NYU Press

256 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9781479899692
  • Published: October 2018

$89.00

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  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781479889266
  • Published: October 2018

$30.00

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Reimagines the American 19th century through a sweeping interdisciplinary engagement with oceans, genres, and time

Emergent Worlds re-locates nineteenth-century America from the land to the oceans and seas that surrounded it. Edward Sugden argues that these ocean spaces existed in a unique historical fold between the transformations that inaugurated the modern era—colonialism to nationalism, mercantilism to capitalism, slavery to freedom, and deferent subject to free citizen. As travellers, workers, and writers journeyed across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea, they had to adapt their political expectations to the interstitial social realities that they saw before them while also feeling their very consciousness, particularly their perception of time, mutate. These four domains—oceanic geography, historical folds, emergent politics, and dissonant times—in turn, provided the conditions for the development of three previously unnamed genres of the 1850s: the Pacific elegy, the black counterfactual, and the immigrant gothic.

In telling the history of these emergent worlds and their importance to the development of the literary cultures of the US Americas, Sugden proposes narratives that alter some of the most enduring myths of the field, including the westward spread of US imperialism, the redemptionist trajectory of black historiography, and the notion that the US Americas constituted a new world. Introducing a new generic vocabulary for describing the literature of the 1850s and crossing over oceans and languages, Emergent Worlds invokes an alternative nineteenth-century America that provides nothing less than a new way to read the era.

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