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Transcendental Resistance
The New Americanists and Emerson's Challenge
Johannes Voelz

Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies

2010 • 336 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
American History - 19th Century / Literary Criticism / American Studies

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-937-2
$37.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-948-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Is Voelz’s work an example of a new space in American Studies for work that moves away from totaling critiques? One can hope.”Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

A timely and engrossing critique of the New Americanists

Johannes Voelz offers a critique of the New Americanists through a stimulating and original reexamination of the iconic figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Voelz argues against the prevailing tendency among Americanists to see Emerson as the product of an “all-pervasive scope of cultural power.” Instead he shows Emerson’s philosophy to be a deft response to the requirements of lecturing professionally at the newly built lyceums around the country. Voelz brings to light a fascinating organic relationship between Emerson’s dynamic style of thinking and the uplifting experience demanded by his public. This need for an audience-directed philosophy, the author argues, reveals the function of Emerson’s infamous inconsistencies on such issues as representation, identity, and nation. It also poses a major counter-argument to the New Americanists’ dim view of Emerson’s individualism and his vision of the private man in public. Challenging the fundamental premises of the New Americanists, this study is an important, even pathbreaking guide to the future of American studies.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Is Voelz’s work an example of a new space in American Studies for work that moves away from totaling critiques? One can hope.”Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

“The book succeeds best in its well-considered critique of new Americanist reading practices; the author supports his argument effectively with his deft, thorough analysis of Emersonian scholarship and texts. Voelz also makes a case that Emerson’s ‘fractured idealism’ was linked to his need to establish recognition on the nineteenth-century lecture circuit. But the book’s strongest contribution lies in its incisive, wide-ranging review and critique of new Americanist scholarship. . . Recommended.”—Choice

“[The] work presents an excellent overview of important contemporary trends in American Studies and affirms the continuing importance of Emerson as a defining American cultural icon.”New England Quarterly

“An ambitious book with a two-pronged agenda, Transcendental Resistance undertakes a rigorous, sustained critique of the theoretical assumptions underlying New Americanist criticism of the last three decades, including both empire criticism and the more recent transnational turn. This double purpose is reflected in the structure of dialectically paired chapters—critique followed by alternative interpretation—organized around three topics: representation, identity, and nation.”—American Literary Scholarship

"The most impressive feat of Transcendental Resistance is its integrationist quality: Voelz brings together a wide variety of studies on Emerson under the elusive header of the "New Americanists" and attests in carefully developed arguments - and in a highly elegant style, which is no more than fitting for a book that emphasizes Emerson's philosophical "stylization" - how they build on a shared but unarticulated consensus regarding the fundamental openness and diversity of American culture."European Journal of American Studies

"All told, this is a compelling and important book, one whose erudition and breadth make it far more appealing than its singular focus on Emerson might lead some readers to believe. In fact, it is Voelz's chapters on the New Americanists, in which he seamlessly yokes the hermeneutical to the historiographical, that steal the show and render the book indispensable reading not only for students of the American Renaissance but of American studies in general."American Nineteenth Century History

“Emerson scholarship is one of the truly crowded fields in American studies. With his first book, Voelz has achieved the distinction of having joined the very small group of scholars of the last two or three decades who have significantly and profoundly enlarged and deepened our understanding of Emerson's”Amerikastudien/American Studies

“A welcome contribution to Emerson scholarship. . . . Responds to the challenge of Emerson with commendable acuity.”Studies in Romanticism

“Everyone who studies American literature beyond the undergraduate level ought to ponder this thoughtful, comprehensive, and brilliant book. In addition to its keen new reading of Emerson, it offers a discriminating—and, I would add, devastating—analysis of the regnant paradigm in the field. Can this really be Johannes Voelz’s first book? It is astonishingly learned, sophisticated, and judicious. Voelz is already in full possession of the self-reflection, generosity, irony, and sensitivity to literary nuance that leading New Americanists, two decades into their ideologically doctrinaire reign, still show little evidence of having acquired.”—Frederick Crews

“Johannes Voelz’s Transcendental Resistance: The New Americanists and Emerson’s Challenge is the best reading of Emerson in the last twenty years. It is the incitement of a trans-Atlantic conversation about the purposes and methods of American Studies, and an ideal way to launch our new series.”—Donald E. Pease

“With great subtlety and erudition, Johannes Voelz demonstrates that what is most consequential and exciting about Emerson’s engagement of any subject lies in its irreducibility to the very ideological positions within which he has tended to seem most enmeshed. To this end, Transcendental Resistance’s reconstruction of the interactive contexts of Emersonian expression is particularly cogent.”—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of Emerson

JOHANNES VOELZ is an assistant professor of American Studies at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main.

Thu, 6 Oct 2016 14:04:05 -0500