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Essays on Modern American Literature
Author: David Herd

Modern American literature began with a statement of enthusiasm from Emerson's writing in Nature. 'Enthusiasm', in Emerson, is a knowing word. Sometimes its use is as description, invariably approving, of a historic form of religious experience. Socrates' meaning of enthusiasm, and the image of the enthusiast it throws up, is crucial to this book. The book is a portrait of the writer as an enthusiast, where the portrait, as will become clear, carries more than a hint of polemic. It is about the transmission of literature, showing various writers taking responsibility for that transmission, whether within in their writing or in their cultural activism. Henry David Thoreau's Walden is an enthusiastic book. It is where enthusiasm works both in Immanuel Kant's sense of the unbridled self, and in William Penn's sense of the 'nearer' testament, and in Thoreau's own sense of supernatural serenity. Establishing Ezra Pound's enthusiasm is a fraught and complicated business. Marianne Moore composed poems patiently, sometimes over several years. She is a poet of things, as isolated things - jewels, curios, familiar and exotic animals, common and rare species of plant - are often the ostensible subjects of her poems. Homage to Frank O'Hara is a necessary book, because the sum of his aesthetic was to be found not just in his writing, but also in his actions to which only friends and contemporaries could testify. An enthusiastic reading of James Schuyler brings to the fore pleasure, the sheer pleasure that can come of combining, or mouthing, or transcribing.

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Enthusiasm and audit
David Herd

should read it, don’t you think?’ Modern American writing, in so far as it can be understood to have its foundations in Emerson, had its origins, as he observed, in a fully developed, historically aware, enthusiastic view of the world; that enthusiastic point of departure being crucial, so it has been suggested, to the literature’s mobility, form and subject matter. William Penn identified in George Fox’s experimentalism a desire for ‘nearness’ with the condition of inspiration, the same ‘nearness’ that Stanley Cavell has described as American literature’s preferred

in Enthusiast!
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A short essay on enthusia
David Herd

possession the individual emitted sounds or gained a verbal fluency of which, otherwise, they were hardly capable. This was most true of the sect known as the Ranters, but at their inception the subsequently reticent Quakers were also known for their extraordinary verbal outbursts. William Penn noted how the ‘meanest of this people’ – and this distribution of eloquence was very largely, from all points of view, the issue – gained ‘an extraordinary understanding in divine things, and an admirable fluency’.10 ‘The Extasys expressed themselves’, as the Earl of Shaftesbury put

in Enthusiast!
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John Toland and print and scribal communities
Justin Champion

, Toland wrote to an anonymous correspondent (probably William Penn) in late June in answer to the queries ‘why I was not employ’d before, and how I wou’d be employed at present?’. Combining a touching reflection upon his own youthful political naïveté, with an account of the vagaries of ideological controversy in the late 1690s and early 1700s, he admitted ‘I thought everybody meant what they said as well as my self’. The consequence of this inexperience was that ‘in the most public manner I promoted the party I had espous’d, without once considering that their

in Republican learning
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Henry David Thoreau
David Herd

it aims to do is to make sense of the world: the words, their etymologies, their derivations and ultimately their constitutive phonemes are understood here to sound the objects they refer to in the way that the onomatopoeically rendered birdsong sounds birds. This, I think, this passage in particular, is an example of Thoreau’s enthusiastic use of words, where enthusiasm works both in Kant’s sense of the unbridled self, and in William Penn’s sense of the ‘nearer’ testament, and in Thoreau’s own sense of supernatural serenity. Thus, that words are ungoverned here is

in Enthusiast!
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Herman Melville
David Herd

Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature leadership in Philadelphia of William Penn, to Quaker involvement in political reformism, especially the anti-slavery movement, as led by John Woolman and as rooted in the Quaker sense of religious equality. What do need to be drawn out are the elements of what one might call Quaker sensibility: a commitment to revelation, a faith in the possibility of immediate contact with the divine, an experimental spirit, an opening of the self to other words and voices. As Quakerism – and then as Quakerism overlapped with other

in Enthusiast!
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War, Debt, and Colonial Power
Tim Di Muzio and Richard H. Robbins

granted what we today call Pennsylvania and Delaware to William Penn in return for cancelling a £16,000 debt that was owed to his father (Curtis 2014: 484). Debt and capitalization, then, were motive forces for English colonialism. They would also play an integral role in the founding of a new nation free of imperial control and its national debt. 62 Debt as Power Before the American War of Independence (1775–83) and the coming into force of the Constitution of the United States (1789), there were two inescapable facts of colonial life among the settlers: the

in Debt as Power
Letter to M. Cavell about cinema (a remake)
Joshua Foa Dienstag

Congresses; then the Liberty Bell; then the statue of William Penn (Quaker, democrat, founder and “Absolute Proprietor” of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia) that sits on top of Philadelphia City Hall; then a brief panorama of the city, emphasizing its Grecian Museum of Art; and finally a return to Independence Hall. These are the only moments of the film that depict any part of municipal

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism