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Read e-book online Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural PDF

By Joel Pfister

ISBN-10: 0190276150

ISBN-13: 9780190276157

In 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, fired from Salem's customized condo and returning to writing, reconceived his outdated task identify, Surveyor of Customs, as his new one. Taking heavily this naming of the yank author's undertaking, Joel Pfister argues that writers from Benjamin Franklin to Louise Erdrich may be learn as serious "surveyors" of customs, tradition, hegemony, capitalism's emotional common sense, and lots more and plenty else.

Literary surveyors have helped make attainable and will improve what we now name cultural research. In fresh a long time cultural thought and background have replaced how we learn literature. Literature can go back the prefer. America's fulfillment as a literary kingdom has contributed creatively to its accomplishment as a self-critical kingdom. The surveyors convened herein wrote novels, tales, performs, poetry, essays, autobiography, journals, and cultural feedback. Surveyors of Customs explores literature's insights into how America--its delicate capitalism, its "democratized" inequality, its Americanization of power--"ticks."

Historical--and timely--questions abound. while and why did capitalism put money into the secular "soul-making" enterprise and what roles did literature play during this? What does literature train us approximately its dating to the institution of a group of workers tradition that moved past self-help incentive-making and intensified americans' preoccupations with own lifestyles to show them into body of workers? How did literature give a contribution to the replica of "classless" type kin and what does this say approximately dress-down politics and sophistication formation in our moment Gilded Age?

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Sample text

The whole system of society is 28 Surveyors of Customs to be torn down, and built up anew”; men must modify the “hereditary habit,” the conventional molds of masculinity, that has come to seem “like nature” but which is not their nature; and women must undergo “a still mightier change” (1: 165) in their role, self-images, expectations, and feelings than men. She grasps that the binary classification of sex roles is one part of the operation of “the whole system of society” (economic, political, religious, and cultural) and that any tinkering with seemingly “opposite” male-female gender roles (any behavior or idea that contravenes the alleged naturalness of this “opposition”) may disrupt the reproductive powers of the “ancient” system.

If at times capitalism is threatened by its contradictions (exploitation of labor, class system), soft capitalism is made up of many industries that rely on these contradictions to flourish. Soft capitalism is a complex payoff system that goes beyond wage earning. 80 The Chapters My three chapters move from reading the text (literary analysis) to reading what the text tells us about the system (cultural analysis) that made the text imaginable (and for some surveyors critically, politically, or ethically pressing to write).

Yet this “Slaughter” within the group is stressful and scary (recall Bradstreet’s artful pun “trembling prey”), threatening as well as propelling the system that produces it. For Howells, Plutocratic prosperity, the selfish joy of having at the necessary cost of those who cannot have, is blighted by the feeling of insecurity, which every man [in America] has, in his secret soul, and which the man who has known want must have in greater measure than the man who has never known want.  The rule of chance, which they all live under, does nothing more than reduce them to a community of anxieties.

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Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural Analysis by Joel Pfister

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