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American Renaissance Poetry and the Topos of Positionality: Genius Mundi and Genius Loci in Walt Whitman and William Gilmore Simms

American Renaissance Poetry and the Topos of Positionality: Genius Mundi and Genius Loci in Walt... JOHN D. KERKERING If the modernist intellectual, fundamentally a deraciné, saw literature as a "strategy of permanent exile" and fundamental displacement . . . the new intellectual rather likes to pose as a topologist: S/he speaks from one specific place of cultural production. . . . "Positionality"--you might have heard of it--is the magic word, and you'd better take it literally. --Roberto Maria Dainotto, Place in Literature1 F. O. MATTHIESSEN PUBLISHED AMERICAN RENAISSANCE: ART AND Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (1941), the phrase "American Renaissance" has provided both an organizing principle for the study of nineteenth-century American literature and a lightning-rod for that study's critique.2 These critiques have challenged Matthiessen's focus on just five authors (Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman), a canonizing gesture that excludes other prominent writers of the "renaissance" period (1850-1855) he addresses. In addition to challenging the exclusion of this period's women writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe and African American writers like Frederick Douglass, critics have more recently questioned the northern bias of Matthiessen's canon, and the author consistently invoked in order to redress this sectional imbalance is the southern writer William Gilmore Simms. In a recent issue of Southern Quarterly, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

American Renaissance Poetry and the Topos of Positionality: Genius Mundi and Genius Loci in Walt Whitman and William Gilmore Simms

Victorian Poetry , Volume 43 (2) – Jan 8, 2005

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 West Virginia University.
ISSN
1530-7190
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Abstract

JOHN D. KERKERING If the modernist intellectual, fundamentally a deraciné, saw literature as a "strategy of permanent exile" and fundamental displacement . . . the new intellectual rather likes to pose as a topologist: S/he speaks from one specific place of cultural production. . . . "Positionality"--you might have heard of it--is the magic word, and you'd better take it literally. --Roberto Maria Dainotto, Place in Literature1 F. O. MATTHIESSEN PUBLISHED AMERICAN RENAISSANCE: ART AND Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (1941), the phrase "American Renaissance" has provided both an organizing principle for the study of nineteenth-century American literature and a lightning-rod for that study's critique.2 These critiques have challenged Matthiessen's focus on just five authors (Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman), a canonizing gesture that excludes other prominent writers of the "renaissance" period (1850-1855) he addresses. In addition to challenging the exclusion of this period's women writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe and African American writers like Frederick Douglass, critics have more recently questioned the northern bias of Matthiessen's canon, and the author consistently invoked in order to redress this sectional imbalance is the southern writer William Gilmore Simms. In a recent issue of Southern Quarterly,

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jan 8, 2005

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