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September 24 , 2009

The American Idea of England, 1776-1840

Transatlantic Writing


Arguing that American colonists who declared their independence in 1776 remained tied to England by both habit and inclination, Jennifer Clark traces the new Americans' struggle to come to terms with their loss of identity as British, and particularly English, citizens. Americans' attempts to negotiate the new Anglo-American relationship are revealed in letters, newspaper accounts, travel reports, essays, song lyrics, short stories and novels, which Clark suggests show them repositioning themselves in a transatlantic context newly defined by political revolution. Chapters examine political writing as a means for Americans to explore the Anglo-American relationship, the appropriation of John Bull by American writers, the challenge the War of 1812 posed to the reconstructed Anglo-American relationship, the Paper War between American and English authors that began around the time of the War of 1812, accounts by Americans lured to England as a place of poetry, story and history, and the work of American writers who dissected the Anglo-American relationship in their fiction. Carefully contextualised historically, Clark's persuasive study shows that any attempt to examine what it meant to be American in the New Nation, and immediately beyond, must be situated within the context of the Anglo-American relationship.

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