Synopses & Reviews
Before the West Was West examines the extent to which scholars have engaged in-depth with pre-1800 and#8220;westernand#8221; texts and asks what we mean by and#8220;westernand#8221; American literature in the first place and when that designation originated.
Calling into question the implicit temporal boundaries of the and#8220;American Westand#8221; in literature, a literature often viewed as having commenced only at the beginning of the 1800s, Before the West Was West explores the concrete, meaningful connections between different texts as well as the development of national ideologies and mythologies. Examining pre-nineteenth-century writings that do not fit conceptions of the Wild West or of cowboys, cattle ranching, and the Pony Express, these thirteen essays demonstrate that no single, unified idea or geography defines the American West.and#160;
Contributors investigate texts ranging from the Norse Vinland Sagas and Mary Rowlandsonand#8217;s famous captivity narrative to early Spanish and French exploration narratives, an eighteenth-century English novel, and a play by Aphra Behn. Through its examination of the disparate and multifaceted body of literature that arises from a broad array of cultural backgrounds and influences, Before the West Was West apprehends the literary West in temporal as well as spatial and cultural terms and poses new questions about and#8220;westernnessand#8221; and its literary representation.
and#8220;Taken as a whole, the insights into the and#8216;whenand#8217; of the American West offered by this book are both timely and essential to our further understanding of how cultures developed in the contact zones of the northern parts of the western hemisphere.and#8221;and#8212;Nicolas S. Witschi, author of Dirty Words in Deadwood: Literature and the Postwestern
This 125th Anniversary edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is expanded with thoroughly updated notes and references, and a selection of original documentsand#151;letters, advertisements, playbillsand#151;some never before published, from Twain's first book tour.
About the Author
Amy T. Hamilton is an associate professor of English at Northern Michigan University.
Tom J. Hillard is an associate professor of English at Boise State University.
Michael P. Branch is professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the editor of Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing Before Walden.