Welcome to the blog formerly known as the companion of McMaster University’s English 2H06 American Literature course. That class has since ended with the fulfillment of the term. Verba Americana will, however, continue. And so here it is.
Here you will find posts both directly and indirectly related to and inspired by the works discussed in lecture and tutorials between September 2011 and April 2012. Posts published after 1 May 2012 are entirely my own, loyal to no one syllabus, but always about American literature and more often than not sticking close to the general type of text that is, could, and should be taught in an American literature course at the university level.
This is a space in which to explore the mobility and immediacy of American literature, to discuss the new and exciting ideas readers confront, and to explore how works of American literature and the myriad ideas explored therein remain important today, as they manifest in our personal lives, popular cultures, political experiences, and more. From de Crevecoeur through Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Whitman, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Baldwin, Vonnegut, Carver, to Denis Johson, David Foster Wallace, ZZ Packer, Junot Diaz, and Miranda July. (And perhaps the odd Canadian writer funded in their work by American institutions – because what are borders anyway and to what extent may we think of American literature in some relation to an idea of North American literature? Let’s agree that the membrane of this blog’s thoughts is generally permeable, malleable, and so it will change shapes somewhat from time to time, but always with an anchor in American arts and letters.)
E. A. Poe, that macabre grandfather of American lit, perhaps offers the best theory after which I hope to shape this blog, as both a sire of imagination and analysis:
“…the truly imaginative are never otherwise than analytic.”
– Edgar Alan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue