Melville, Whitman, and the Tribulations of Democracy

Betsy J Erkkila*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to American Literature and Culture
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9780631208921
StatePublished - Mar 16 2010


  • Decade of the thirties-militant resistance to federal power and inhumane social conditions of slavery
  • Epics of democracy
  • Mardi and a Voyage Thither (1849)-as another sea narrative in the popular mode of Typee and Omoo
  • Melville and Whitman-crisis over revolutionary ideals of the founding and the American "experiment" with democracy
  • Melville, Whitman, and the tribulations of democracy
  • Revolutionary formations-Whitman's family, democratic party politics in the Age of Jackson
  • Social and political contests of the time-conflict between promise of the Declaration of Independence, between democratic rights and constitutional law
  • The American 1848-envisioning specter of mass carnage and a second American Revolution-Battle of Monmouth seeming like child's play
  • The fractured state-exploring nagging ironies, contradictions, and delusions of revolutionary heritage
  • Whitman and Melville, retreating from radical political movements of their time, abolition and reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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