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American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity$
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Melanie V. Dawson and Meredith L. Goldsmith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056043

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056043.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity

Melanie V. Dawson

Meredith L. Goldsmith

University Press of Florida

Across the period from 1880 to 1930, the processes of rethinking the past can be read as a historical gesture as significant as the consideration of wholly new works of art, resulting in a period of experimentation, negotiation, hybridity, and historical dualities. Despite pressures to valorize the modern and thus separate literary eras at the century’s dividing mark, authors from the turn of the century, or the T-20 period, explore their historical legacies as well as anticipatory inscriptions of the new. Calling for a reading practice that encourages both forward and backward glancing, essays collected in this volume attest to the irreducibility of the century’s turn, which can be read as an era of historical complexity rather than as a period shaped by a decisive teleological march into new intellectual territory. Exploring the permeable boundaries and elastic categories of a literary history rich in multiple investments, essays here stress American literature’s navigation of moving boundaries that encompass not only temporal markers but intersecting literary and cultural traditions.

Keywords:   Hybridity, T-20, Reading practice, historical dualities, negotiation, Literary History, tradition, Modern

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