cover of book
 

Culture and Language at Crossed Purposes: The Unsettled Records of American Settlement
by Jerome McGann
University of Chicago Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-0-226-81847-4 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81845-0 | Paper: 978-0-226-81846-7
Library of Congress Classification PS195.T74M34 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.9001

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Culture and Language at Crossed Purposes unpacks the interpretive problems of colonial treaty-making and uses them to illuminate canonical works from the period.

Classic American literature, Jerome McGann argues, is haunted by the betrayal of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Indian treaties—“a stunned memory preserved in the negative spaces of the treaty records.” A noted scholar of the “textual conditions” of literature, McGann investigates canonical works from the colonial period, including the Arbella sermon and key writings of William Bradford, John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, Cotton Mather’s Magnalia, Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated treaty folios and Autobiography, and Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. These are highly practical, purpose-driven works—the record of Enlightenment dreams put to the severe test of dangerous conditions. McGann suggests that the treaty-makers never doubted the unsettled character of what they were prosecuting, and a similar conflicted ethos pervades these works. Like the treaty records, they deliberately test themselves against stringent measures of truth and accomplishment and show a distinctive consciousness of their limits and failures. McGann’s book is ultimately a reminder of the public importance of truth and memory—the vocational commitments of humanist scholars and educators.  
Nearby on shelf for American literature / By period / 17th-18th centuries: