"The problem of Poe's place in American culture cannot be settled canonically, since, unlike the works of Melville or Hawthorne, Poe's texts have not been primarily transmitted through the schools. Indeed, at its most radical level, the failure of criticism to account for the remarkable diversity of Poe's influence leads one to question the utility of the canon itself as an instrument for the study of American culture."—from the Introduction
The contributors to this volume share the conviction that Poe is central to current work on American culture—and that strictly theoretical approaches to Poe have become increasingly irrelevant. Aiming to transform his place in the American canon, they bring sophisticated theoretical awareness to bear on the particular historical, social, political, and economic circumstances of his literary career. Their essays offer new insights into the complex and unavoidable relations between traditionally literary issues and the broader aspects of a democratic mass culture. The contributors are Gillian Brown, Stanley Cavell, Eva Cherniavsky, Joan Dayan, Jonathan Elmer, John T. Irwin, Barbara Johnson, David Leverenz, Meredith L. McGill, Stephen Rachman, Louis A. Renza, Shawn Rosenheim, and Laura Saltz.
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