MyAmericanFuture

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MyAmericanFuture

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27, 2016: New Scholarly Books: Finding Light between the Pages



[With the semester done, this week I’ll be getting to work on the final revisions of my forthcoming fourth book. So I wanted to highlight briefly four new books in American Studies by colleagues and friends, leading up to this special post on my own manuscript in progress. I’d still love for you to share your own book recommendations!]
Three things to know about my latest book manuscript, which is under contact with Rowman & Littlefield and for which I’m finalizing revisions as we speak:
1)      A new title: For a long time, the book was gonna be titled Hard-Won Hope: How American Authors Find Light in Our Darkest Histories. That title still sums up my central argument, but working with my editor we’ve come up with a new title, Finding Light between the Pages. As with any change this one took me some time to wrap my head around, but I now really like it and feel that it captures both my optimism and the project’s perspective on literature’s vital cultural role really effectively. Can’t wait to see it on a cover!
2)      A key idea: If hard-won hope offers one summative phrase for my book’s argument, critical patriotism provides another—and captures even more succinctly the specifically American stakes of finding such hard-won hope. I’m not the only public AmericanStudies scholar making the case for a more nuanced and critical form of American patriotism—check out this piece on ‘Merica Magazine by one of its co-founders, Ed Simon. I hope my book can exemplify, both in its focal texts and in and of itself, the possibilities and value of such critical American patriotism.
3)      It was fun!: I began writing this book in 2012, and submitted the first version of it to a publisher in early 2014; it’s undergone many forms and revisions, submissions and rejections, next steps and dead ends, since, before finding this very happy home with Rowman. The main reason I’ve been so able and willing to stick with it through all that is that I’ve genuinely enjoyed the work—the chance to write about some of my favorite authors and works (from Chesnutt’s Marrow of Tradition to Bulosan’s America is in the Heart to McCarthy’s The Road, among many others), the opportunity to think big about some of what’s most important in both public scholarship and America as I would define them. Maybe it can’t always be fun, this work we do—but as the great books I’ve highlighted this week illustrate, and as I hope mine will demonstrate as well, fun and serious can certainly go hand in hand.
Monthly recap this weekend,
Ben
PS. So one more time: other books (new or not) you’d recommend?

1 comment:

  1. PS. For more on critical patriotism, see this recent Huffington Post piece of mine:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-railton/why-i-wont-be-buying-an-a_b_10108732.html

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