Cover image for After Franklin : the emergence of autobiography in post-revolutionary America 1780-1830
Title:
After Franklin : the emergence of autobiography in post-revolutionary America 1780-1830
Author:
Arch, Stephen Carl.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hanover : University of New Hampshire ; published by University Press of New England, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xiv, 241 pages ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9781584651147

9781584651321
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library CT25 .A68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

An analysis of the foundations of autobiography in America.


Summary

Although much has been written about Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, other writers of what Stephen Arch calls "self-biographies" in post-revolutionary America have received scant scholarly attention. This rich variety of texts dramatically shows the complex nature of 19th-century concepts of identity. Arguing that "autobiography" is a modern invention, Arch shows its emergence in the older, conservative self-biographies of Alexander Graydon, Benjamin Rush, and Ethan Allen and in the newer, more progressive, and even radical self-biographies of K. White, Elizabeth Fisher, Stephen Burroughs, and John Fitch. Describing the evolution of a concept as elastic as "the self" is not easy, but Arch offers a unique and imaginative study of the emergence of a specifically modern American identity.


Author Notes

STEPHEN CARL ARCH, Associate Professor of English at Michigan State University, is author of Authorizing the Past: The Rhetoric of History in Seventeenth-Century New England.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Arch's (Authorizing the Past; English, Michigan State Univ.) well-supported thesis is that before the 1810s in North America, people who wrote about themselves, Benjamin Franklin for example, were not accurately called "autobiographers," in the current sense of the word. What they wrote might best be described as "self-biographies," because the self they depicted was not unique but in some sense a depersonalized, representative example. According to the author, between 1780 and 1830 the conceptual transformation of the "self" took place in this country. By the early 19th century, the familiar idea of the personal, individual self, separate from all others, had all but replaced the traditional average self in American writing. Arch exemplifies this fitful progression with a long line of familiar and unfamiliar "self-biographies" and "autobiographies": Franklin's own so-called autobiography; Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer; Alexander Graydon's Memoirs of a Life; Benjamin Rush's 1789 Medical Inquiries and Observations; Ethan Allen's Narrative; and the writings of the sentimental Stephen Burroughs and the "singular" inventor John Fitch. This brief but convincing volume is highly recommended for all academic libraries. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

Arch's (Authorizing the Past; English, Michigan State Univ.) well-supported thesis is that before the 1810s in North America, people who wrote about themselves, Benjamin Franklin for example, were not accurately called "autobiographers," in the current sense of the word. What they wrote might best be described as "self-biographies," because the self they depicted was not unique but in some sense a depersonalized, representative example. According to the author, between 1780 and 1830 the conceptual transformation of the "self" took place in this country. By the early 19th century, the familiar idea of the personal, individual self, separate from all others, had all but replaced the traditional average self in American writing. Arch exemplifies this fitful progression with a long line of familiar and unfamiliar "self-biographies" and "autobiographies": Franklin's own so-called autobiography; Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer; Alexander Graydon's Memoirs of a Life; Benjamin Rush's 1789 Medical Inquiries and Observations; Ethan Allen's Narrative; and the writings of the sentimental Stephen Burroughs and the "singular" inventor John Fitch. This brief but convincing volume is highly recommended for all academic libraries. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Google Preview