F. O. Matthiessen: Comparative Criticism and the Rhetoric of Violence

Paul Giles

in Transnationalism in Practice

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640492
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652129 | DOI:
F. O. Matthiessen: Comparative Criticism and the Rhetoric of Violence

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This chapter discusses the issues of the rhetoric of violence and comparative criticism, focusing on the work of F.O. Matthiessen. It argues that Matthiessen's American Renaissance is the best book of American literary and cultural criticism published during the twentieth century. The chapter explains that this book exerted a crucial influence in consolidating and directing the Americanist field during the second half of the twentieth century and that it was able to interweave close readings of particular authors with the discourses of history, painting, architecture and other contextual areas, so as to create both a cumulative and a synthetic portrait of American culture in the 1850s.

Keywords: comparative criticism; F.O. Matthiessen; American Renaissance; cultural criticism; literary criticism; Americanist field; American culture

Chapter.  4368 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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