To acknowledge is always in some sense to pay a debt, and while I would
like, in the context of this study, to resist an uninterrogated language of
economy, it seems to me that intellectual work is often about accumula-
tion, though not of property but of generosity. Like all debts, mine have
accumulated over time, but they take shape in my mind as locations, and
it is remarkable to me how they seem now to both begin and end in the
same place.
As my first mentors and now my colleagues, Cynthia Kinnard Dominick
and Ray Hedin of Indiana University were crucial to my developing inter-
est in American studies, and I am honored to be teaching with those - as
with Jean Robinson-who first and most compellingly inspired me. I also
count myself fortunate to have as colleagues in the English department
a group of prolific young scholars, especially the Americanists Eva Cher-
niavsky, Jonathan Elmer, and Cary Wolfe, whose intellectual passions and
pedagogical commitments have challenged me. To those who read in care-
ful and tactful ways drafts of this manuscript - Kari Bloedel, Diane Elam,
Mary Favret, Elena Glasberg, and Andrew Miller-I can only hope that
my revisions reflect your contributions well. To Mary Jo Weaver and Susan
Gubar, who have helped make possible whatever ease of inquiry femi-
nists now enjoy, I am most grateful for both intellectual comraderie and
friendship. And to Lynn Hudson, Theresa Kemp, Merrill Morris, and Jane
Rhodes: appreciation is due for your collective creativities.
This book began as a dissertation under the direction of Susan Jeffords
at the University of Washington and received generous commentary not
only from her, but from a collection of committed and thoughtful teach-
ers: Carolyn Allen, Mark Patterson, Sara VandenBerg, and Evan Watkins.
At Syracuse University, the debates within the English department about
politics and the profession compelled me into a broad range of theoreti-
cal reconsiderations, and I am pleased to now understand the significance
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