Academic journal article Early American Literature

Editor's Note

Academic journal article Early American Literature

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

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Early American Literature: Special Issue on "Aesthetics, Feeling, and Form"

In recent years, new work on the history and politics of aesthetics has breathed intellectual life into old questions about imagination, feeling, and form in early American literature and culture. No longer viewed as merely an ornamental evasion of history or an elite respite from the demands of democracy, aesthetics is increasingly understood as an illuminating vocabulary of both private interiority and public collectivity and an essential means of discerning the complex relations between mind, art, culture, and politics.

Nevertheless, the contentious critical legacy of aesthetics, its notorious conceptual volatility, and the lack of a shared understanding about its central ideas leave us in need of a concerted scholarly conversation that addresses pertinent questions: What do we mean by "aesthetics"? What does it mean for early American literature? How is an aesthetics of feeling related to an aesthetics of form? How is each expressive of politics and history and amenable to historicist methodologies? …

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