Unsettled States

Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies

352 pages

8 halftones

August, 2014

ISBN: 9781479889327



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Dana Luciano is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University. She is the author of Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America.

All books by Dana Luciano

Ivy G. Wilson is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Program in American Studies at Northwestern University. His most recent book is Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S.

All books by Ivy Wilson

In Unsettled States, Dana Luciano and Ivy G. Wilson present some of the most exciting emergent scholarship in American literary and cultural studies of the “long” nineteenth century. Featuring eleven essays from senior scholars across the discipline, the book responds to recent critical challenges to the boundaries, both spatial and temporal, that have traditionally organized scholarship within the field. The volume considers these recent challenges to be aftershocks of earlier revolutions in content and method, and it seeks ways of inhabiting and amplifying the ongoing unsettledness of the field.

Written by scholars primarily working in the “minor” fields of critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and gender studies, labor studies, and queer/sexuality studies, the essays share a minoritarian critical orientation. Minoritarian criticism, as an aesthetic, political, and ethical project, is dedicated to finding new connections and possibilities within extant frameworks. Unsettled States seeks to demonstrate how the goals of minoritarian critique may be actualized without automatic recourse to a predetermined “minor” location, subject, or critical approach. Its contributors work to develop practices of reading an “American literature” in motion, identifying nodes of inquiry attuned to the rhythms of a field that is always on the move.


  • “Innovative and thought-provoking, this collection will be of broad interest, opening up discussions on an array of texts, critical approaches, and developing conversations in the study of of nineteenth-century literature. With essays that are accessible, lucid, and utterly fascinating, Unsettled States offers arresting analyses and makes a real contribution to the field.”

    —Dana Nelson, author of Bad for Democracy

  • Unsettled States sheds light on the papers long swept under the rug ranging from early Hispanic literature to polar periodicals.  More importantly, the authors of the articles conscientiously build up their discussions in relation to contemporary literature and critical theory, which makes the collection even more distinguishing and valuable for the twenty-first century reader.”

    American Studies Journal