From the Colonial Period to the End of the 19th Century
This volume is designed as a companion piece to the anthology Key Concepts in American Cultural History: From the Colonial Period to the End of the 19th Century, which was first published in 2005. It seeks to position the documents introduced in the anthology within the major ideological formations in which these documents originally operated and developed their political and social impact. Although a multiplicity of voices has defined America’s cultural development since the colonial period, the conceptualization of America as a distinct nation has evolved from a relatively small number of pervasive concepts. Such key concepts served as ideological blueprints and mental sign-posts in the process of building a common basis for a society which – with respect to gender, class, ethnicity, and religion – had an extremely diversified origin. The companion foregrounds concepts which have transcended their original historical contexts to become crucial factors in the forging of a uniquely American cultural identity. Given this particular focus, the essays investigate the cultural logic that allowed certain basic ideas not only to gain prominence at a specific historic moment, but to establish themselves as forces which reached wide social currency and, by implication, exerted a fundamental, long-term ideological impact. The essays in this volume offer close readings of processes of cultural formation. They also serve as a study guide for students and an instructional guide for teachers of American Studies. Sections focusing on classroom issues and self-study strategies supplement the essays.
Bernd Engler, geb. 1954; Studium, Promotion und Habilitation an der Universität Freiburg i.Br.; seit 1992 Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Amerikanische Literatur und Kultur an der Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.