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Writing America

Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader's Companion)

Shelley Fisher Fishkin (author)

ISBN: 9780813575988

Publication Date: Mar 2017

Format: Paperback

Also available as: Hardback  

Offers a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theatres to internment camps.
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American novelist E.L. Doctorow once observed that literature "endows places with meaning." Yet, as this wide-ranging new book vividly illustrates, understanding the places that shaped American writers' lives and their art can provide deep insight into what makes their literature truly meaningful.

Published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act, Writing America is a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theaters to internment camps. The book considers not only the traditional sites for literary tourism, such as Mark Twain's sumptuous Connecticut home and the peaceful woods surrounding Walden Pond, but also locations that highlight the diversity of American literature, from the New York tenements that spawned Abraham Cahan's fiction to the Texas pump house that irrigated the fields in which the farm workers central to Gloria Anzalda's poetry picked produce. Rather than just providing a cursory overview of these authors' achievements, acclaimed literary scholar and cultural historian Shelley Fisher Fishkin offers a deep and personal reflection on how key sites bore witness to the struggles of American writers and inspired their dreams. She probes the global impact of American writers' innovative art and also examines the distinctive contributions to American culture by American writers who wrote in languages other than English, including Yiddish, Chinese, and Spanish.

Only a scholar with as wide-ranging interests as Shelley Fisher Fishkin would dare to bring together in one book writers as diverse as Gloria Anzalda, Nicholas Black Elk, David Bradley, Abraham Cahan, S. Alice Callahan, Raymond Chandler, Frank Chin, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Countee Cullen, Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jessie Fauset, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Jovita Gonzalez, Rolando Hinojosa, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Lawson Fusao Inada, James Weldon Johnson, Erica Jong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Irena Klepfisz, Nella Larsen, Emma Lazarus, Sinclair Lewis, Genny Lim, Claude McKay, Herman Melville, N. Scott Momaday, William Northup, John Okada, Min Okubo, Simon Ortiz, Americo Paredes, John P. Parker, Ann Petry, Tomas Rivera, Wendy Rose, Morris Rosenfeld, John Steinbeck, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Yoshiko Uchida, Tino Villanueva, Nathanael West, Walt Whitman, Richard Wright, Hisaye Yamamoto, Anzia Yezierska, and Zitkala

Leading readers on an enticing journey across the borders of physical places and imaginative terrains, the book includes over 60 images, and extended excerpts from a variety of literary works. Each chapter ends with resources for further exploration. Writing America reveals the alchemy though which American writers have transformed the world around them into art, changing their world and ours in the process.

Reviews

"A terrific travel buddy for the literary tourist … Meeting at the intersection of physical place, history and literature, Writing America brings readers along for the ride, pinpointing the locales that fueled the imaginations of some of our most important writers."
Ms.
Illustrations 62 photographs
Pages 336
Dimensions 216 x 140
Date Published 30 Mar 2017
Subject/s Literature: history & criticism   Architecture   History of the Americas   Literary companions   Travel & holiday   Travel writing  
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, professor of English, and director of American studies at Stanford University. She is also the award-winning author, editor or co-editor of over forty books and over one hundred articles, essays, columns, and reviews. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and is a former president of the American Studies Association.

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