AUTHORS: Parini/Samuels - ©2009
The first thematic series published for American literature, THE WADSWORTH THEMES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE SERIES is currently comprised of 21 themes spanning the time period normally covered in the two-semester American literature survey course—1492 to the present. Each carefully edited booklet centers on a core issue of the period with attention given to the development of key themes. Each thematic booklet offers an introductory contextual essay, a variety of literary perspectives, headnotes and footnotes, along with a variety of visual elements. Shirley Samuels—a Professor of English and American Studies who also chairs the History of Art and Visual Studies Department at Cornell—has established herself as a major voice in the field of nineteenth-century American literature and culture. In the second sequence of booklets, Samuels looks at the early days of the American republic, a period stretching from 1800-1865, taking us through the Civil War. This was a period of huge expansion as well as consolidation. The question of identity arose on different fronts, and we see the beginnings of the women's movement in the nineteenth century. Racial questions came into focus during this era, too, and the groundwork for the Civil War is unhappily laid. A range of inspiring and heart-rending texts from a time of bloodshed, hatred, and immense idealism concludes the thematic sequence.