Comparative African American and Asian American Literary Studies
Julia H. Lee
Confessional poetry is verse in which the author describes parts of his or her life that would not ordinarily be in the public domain. The prime characteristic is the reduction of distance between the persona displayed in a poem and the author who writes it.
The Contemporary Anglophone Romance Genre
Contemporary Asian American Art
The Contemporary Gothic
Xavier Aldana Reyes
Contemporary Latinx Literature in the Midwest
Theresa Delgadillo and Leila Vieira
Contemporary Southern Literature
Contemporary Voices in Asian American Lyric Poetry
Fenimore Cooper, James
Charles Robert Baker
James Cooper (he legally added “Fenimore,” his mother's maiden name, in 1826) was born on 15 September 1789, in Burlington, New Jersey, a little more than five months after George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. He was the twelfth of thirteen children born to William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore, one of only seven to survive childhood. William Cooper was the quintessential early American: a religious man, a shrewd land developer, and a willing public servant. By the time James was born, William had amassed great wealth; had founded the settlement of Cooperstown on the shores of Otsego Lake in central New York State, where he built the family estate; and had been selected to serve as the first judge of the court of common pleas for Otsego County. He served as the county's representative in the Fourth (1795) and Sixth (1799) U.S. Congresses and was a leading figure in the history of the state. A staunch Federalist, Judge Cooper agreed with Alexander Hamilton that men of property should govern the American masses. As his ambitions grew, so did the number of his enemies; he died after being attacked from behind by a political opponent in 1809
On 21 July 1899, Harold Hart Crane was born in Garrettsville, Ohio, the only child of Clarence A. Crane and Grace Hart Crane. Crane's short, troubling life in large measure parallels the tenor of the times in which he lived. His twenties in personal age correspond with the Jazz Age of the 1920s, with all its brilliance, excess, and celebration, and the end of his life in 1932 coincides with both the demise of his dreams for a poetic synthesis of American culture and history and the great crash of the American economy. His life is the arc of a great creative gift through ecstasy, dissipation, progressive alcoholism, and psychological deterioration to despair and suicide, when a few minutes before noon on 27 April 1932, Crane walked to the stern of SS Orizaba, removed his overcoat, folded it neatly over the rail, and dropped into the Caribbean Sea. In Crane's short life he created some of the most lasting, most vital poetry ever written by an American.
Stephen Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey, on 1 November 1871, the fourteenth and last child of Rev. Jonathan Townley Crane (Methodist by denomination) and Mary Helen Peck Crane (an activist in the temperance movement). Eight of his brothers and sisters survived infancy. Crane's early years were spent in the cities of Newark, Bloomington, and Paterson, New Jersey, as his father moved from church to church in the way of Methodist ministers. In 1878 the Reverend Crane accepted a post at Drew Methodist Church in Port Jervis, New York, and there young Stephen lived for some five years, wandering about in the woods of neighboring counties and, from time to time, listening to veterans of the New York 124th Regiment, who often gathered in a park at the center of Port Jervis to swap stories about their service in the Civil War. (It was likely here that Crane's fascination with the war began in earnest, and he may have drawn on the Port Jervis veterans' recollections when writing The Red Badge of Courage.) Reverend Crane died in 1880, leaving Stephen and his siblings to be raised by their mother, whose devotion to the church her husband had served increased as the years rolled by; she died in 1891, after suffering a mental breakdown of uncertain duration and severity. Readers have been known to chuckle at the thought of so pious a father and mother giving birth to so irreverent a son as Stephen Crane. But the son seems less to have been in rebellion against his parents, whom he loved, than simply attuned to the knowing urbanity and cleverness that characterized the younger set in New York City, where he would make his start in the 1890s.
Robert Creeley arose from a generation of poets who came to consciousness during the Great Depression and World War II and for whom these events formed a vast awareness of loss. Creeley in particular felt loss on a national and a personal scale; before he was five, his father had died of pneumonia and one of his eyes was blinded in a freak automobile accident. His family was originally working class. Creeley's paternal grandfather was a wealthy farmer, but the wealth, forfeited in a family scandal, was not passed on to the next generation. That brief brush with fortune raised Creeley's father out of the working class long enough to pursue an M.D. By the time Creeley was born on 21 May 1926 in West Acton, Massachusetts, his father had his own clinic and the family maintained chauffeurs and maids; however, it all disappeared when his father died. The family income dropped precipitously, and his mother was left with only her public health nurse's salary to support Creeley and his older sister. Critics have made much of the effect of the loss of his eye at the age of four on later themes of loss and betrayal in his poetry. The accident, which occurred when he was two, involved an errant load of coal that drove a shard of glass into Creeley's left eye. The injury was increasingly problematic until, after his father's death, his mother had the eye removed under circumstances he later considered a betrayal of trust. On what seemed like a routine visit to the hospital where she worked, she checked him in and the eye was taken out.
St. John De Crèvecoeur, J. Hector
Kathryn W. Kemp
In Letters from an American Farmer (1782), a writer calling himself J. Hector St. John provides a firsthand view of the lives of ordinary Americans in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Because the author, a native of France named Michel-Guilliaume de Crèvecoeur, opposed the American Revolution, his work received scant attention until the twentieth century, when scholars recognized the value of its descriptions of the colonial world, including rural life, Indians, the frontier, the whaling communities of New England, slavery, and the flora and fauna of the Middle Colonies.
Cuban American Literatures
Ricardo L. Ortiz
Cummings, E. E.
Poet of satire, love, and lower-case letters, Edward Estlin Cummings was born on 14 October 1894 at his home at 104 Irving Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the Reverend Edward Cummings and Rebecca Haswell Cummings. To distinguish between the two Edwards, the son was called by his middle name, becoming known as Estlin to family and friends. It was much later that he chose to be known professionally as E. E. Cummings, and although it was believed for many years that he had legally changed his name to reflect the use of lowercase letters that became his poetic signature (e. e. cummings), he did not.
Currents in Dominican American Literature
Nancy Kang and Silvio Torres-Saillant
Dana, Richard Henry
On 14 August 1834, a nineteen-year-old Harvard student walked down a Boston wharf to board the brig Pilgrim. He was wearing the loose duck trousers and tarpaulin hat of a sailor, for which he had exchanged his usual silk cap, kid gloves, and tight dress coat. Richard Henry Dana was about to embark on the adventure of his life—a two-year working voyage to California and back. He had decided to sail “before the mast” as an ordinary seaman, living forward in the ship for over two years with men who could hardly be more different from him. This breech of the boundary surrounding educated society shocked his friends. It was an audacious decision.