Is American vision implicitly possessive, as a generation of critics contends? By viewing the American poetic tradition throught the prism of pragmatism, this text contests this claim. American poems see more fully and less invasively than accounts of American literature as an inscription of imperial national ideology woulf allow. It also argues that their ways of eseing draw on and develop a vigorous mode of national representation alternative to the appropriate sort found in the quintessential American genre of encounter, the romance.
Elisa New is Professor of English at Harvard University and author of The Regenerate Lyric.