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The Global Remapping of American Literature$
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Paul Giles

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691136134

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691136134.001.0001

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Augustan American Literature: An Aesthetics of Extravagance

Augustan American Literature: An Aesthetics of Extravagance

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(p.29) Chapter 1 Augustan American Literature: An Aesthetics of Extravagance
Source:
The Global Remapping of American Literature
Author(s):

Paul Giles

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691136134.003.0002

This chapter examines the Augustan tradition in American literature, arguing that it should not be seen as confined to the world of belles lettres. It suggests that Augustan American literature involves the creative entanglement of potentially contradictory narratives, and the peculiar power of its art derives from its sense of being deliberately out of place, of transgressing the boundaries of civil convention in the interests of exploration and extravagance. The chapter explores the relationship between plantations and the aesthetics of extravagance by offering a critique of Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, which describes an increasing sense toward the end of the seventeenth century of the importance of geography, of the position of New England in relation to the rest of the world. It also analyzes the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, Timothy Dwight, and Richard Alsop.

Keywords:   extravagance, plantations, Augustan American literature, Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, geography, New England, poetry, Phillis Wheatley, Timothy Dwight

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