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Remodeling the Nation
The Architecture of American Identity, 1776-1858
Duncan Faherty

Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2007 • 268 pp. 15 B&W illustrations 6 x 9"
Architecture / Cultural Studies

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-772-9

“[A] rich, well-researched book . . . Here is laudable interdisciplinary work, of equal interest to students of history, literature, or architecture.”—Choice

A rich analysis of how post Revolutionary Americans conceptualized the early Republic through metaphors of home building

In this interdisciplinary study, Faherty argues that throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Americans conceptualized their still unsettled political and social states through metaphors of home building. During this period, a pervasive concern with the design and furnishing of houses helped writers to manage previous encounters with settlements, both native and European, and to imagine and remodel a new national ideal. By aligning the period’s architectural concerns (registered in both the interior and exterior of houses) with concurrent debates about the need to create a national identity in the wake of the American Revolution, Faherty registers how representations of the house were a crucial locus for debating broadly shared concerns about the anxieties of nation building.

Topics include Abraham Lincoln’s use of architectural motifs in his 1858 senatorial campaign (the “house divided against itself ” speech); the arguments about domestic identity embodied in the designs of Mount Vernon and Monticello; the lingering import of colonial and indigenous settlements on post-revolutionary culture as registered in the work of William Bartram and Lewis and Clark; Charles Brockden Brown’s representations of the multivalent legacies of Pennsylvania’s architectural landscapes; Washington Irving’s attempts to preserve and remodel national architectural and literary practices by underscoring the manufactured nature of European cultural production; the shifting importance of the house and American attitudes toward nature in the work of three generations of the Cooper family; and the gendering of domestic space in the work of Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.

Richly informed by contemporary work in literary studies, history, art history, and cultural criticism, Remodeling the Nation ranges incisively across the work of political theorists, social critics, novelists, poets, natural historians, landscape artists, travel writers, and authors of architectural and domestic treatises.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“[T]his study calls much needed attention to the ways that post-Revolutionary Americans tried to reconcile the seemingly contradictory ideas of preservation and development, past and future, conservation and progressivism, and local and national. Remodeling the Nation is sure to prompt scholars from many disciplines to reconsider the ways that Americans manipulated space to negotiate identity in nineteenth-century society.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“Compelling . . . Faherty offers readers an important story about the naturalization of a national landscape in the midst of spectral occupational histories that continually challenged the fantasy of a coherent national identity.”—American Literature

“Remarkable. . . . ambitious.”
Journal of Early Republic

“The book offers historical geographers interested in meaning embedded in material culture important insight from a cultural criticism perspective.”—
Historical Geography

"Showing how views of domestic architecture reflect shifting conceptions of American identity, Faherty adds a fascinating chapter to American cultural and intellectual history. Expertly navigating between architecture, literature, and art, Faherty provides a broadly interdisciplinary study that illuminates each of these fields and creates a sweeping panorama of American culture."—David Reynolds, author of Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Award; finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Remodeling the Nation asks big question and provides eye-opening answers. Duncan Faherty's ambitious book sheds new light on the formation of American identity between the Revolution and Civil War, and through his focus on architecture offers a way of reconceptualizing the period. This is essential reading for all students of post-Revolutionary and antebellum American culture.”—Louis P. Masur, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American Institutions and Values, Trinity College

"Remodeling the Nation is a thoughtful and illuminating study of how architecture informs representations of American cultural identity during the post-revolutionary and antebellum periods. Faherty has written a persuasive, and long overdue, account about the centrality of architectural models in the lives and work of formative American writers such as Thomas Jefferson, Charles Brockden Brown, William Bartram, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Faherty provides an insightful analysis of how architecture became an important cultural text for making an ideological break with the colonial past, for forming the private and public character of the new republican citizen, and for speculating on the future direction of the U.S. Remodeling the Nation shows how architecture was essential to the invention of a usable past that could serve as a stable foundation for national development. Tracing a richly historicized genealogy of real and fictional homes that American writers imagined in their attempts to build the nation from the ground up, Faherty restores the missing text of architecture to our understanding of the contested cultural work of nation-building."—Andy Doolen, author of Fugitive Empire: Locating Early American Imperialism

DUNCAN FAHERTY is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Queens College, City University of New York.

Fri, 6 Jul 2018 13:14:06 -0500