Episodic Poetics in the Early American Republic


ACLS Fellowship Program




Between the 1780s and the 1820s, the early US republic was saturated in episodic texts. This project traces the culture of the episode across the period’s major genres of prose writing, from wildly plotted novels to event-centered memoirs and linked serial essays. Reorienting criticism toward the dialectical analysis of the episode, it shows how this device gave variegated shape to the social, political, and economic conflicts that defined the early republic. The result is American literary history recounted not as the easy victory of grand nationalist ambitions, but rather as a series of social struggles expressed through writers’ recurring engagement with incompletely integrated forms.