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This Companion is the first critical collection of its kind devoted solely to American poetry of the nineteenth century. It covers a wide variety of authors, many of whom are currently being rediscovered. A number of anthologies in the recent past have been devoted to the verse of groups such as Native Americans, African-Americans and women. This volume offers essays covering these groups as well as more familiar figures such as Dickinson, Whitman, Longfellow and Melville. The contents are divided between broad topics of concern such as the poetry of the Civil War or the development of the 'poetess' role and articles featuring specific authors such as Edgar Allan Poe or Sarah Piatt. In the past two decades a growing body of scholarship has been engaged in reconceptualizing and re-evaluating this largely neglected area of study in US literary history - this Companion reflects and advances this spirit of revisionism.
This book was first published in 2008. The theme of inequality has often dominated academic criticism, which has been concerned with identifying, analyzing, and demystifying various regimes of power and the illicit hierarchies upon which they are built. Studies of the United States in the nineteenth century have followed this trend in focusing on slavery, women's writing, and working-class activism. Kerry Larson advocates the importance of looking instead at equality as a central theme, viewing it not as an endangered ideal to strive for and protect but as an imagined social reality in its own right, one with far-reaching consequences. In this original study, he reads the literature of the pre-Civil War United States against Tocqueville's theories of equality. Imagining Equality tests these theories in the work of a broad array of authors and genres, both canonical and non-canonical, and in doing so discovers important themes in Stowe, Hawthorne, Douglass and Alcott.