1. Reconfiguring Academic Disciplines:
The Emergence of American Studies
The critique is that of George E. Marcus in ‘‘Repatriating an Interpretive An-
thropology: The American Studies/Cultural Criticism Connection,’’ American
Anthropologist 85 (December 1983): 859–865. Marcus attributes this limitation
to the focus of anthropologists upon small-group ethnography. As a conse-
quence, he writes, ‘‘anthropology has largely failed to portray the cultural
meanings of its subjects—most often the disadvantaged, or marginally inte-
grated ethnics—in the full context of a thoroughly penetrating culture of cap-
italism against which or in terms of which all small-group cultural life must be
created’’ (p. 862). Some more recent anthropological work seems to me to
transcend such limitations and therefore represents a fruitful addition to the
eclectic repertory of American studies methodologies.
See, for example, William E. Cain’s opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher
Education, December 13, 1996, p. B5, which argues that English departments
are, or should be, the domains for close reading of literary texts; and Stanley
Fish, who argues that English has lost its identity, its sense of coherent mission,
and thus a good deal of its public support in ‘‘Them We Burn: Violence and
Conviction in the English Department,’’ English as a Discipline: Or, Is There a
Plot in This Play?, ed. James C. Raymond (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama
Press, 1996), pp. 160–173.
Richard Ohmann, Selling Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of
the Century (London: Verso, 1996); Rob Kroes, If You’ve Seen One, You’ve Seen
the Mall: Europeans and American Mass Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1996).
As is done, for example, in Alan Trachtenberg, ‘‘Myth, History, and Literature
in Virgin Land,’’ Prospects 3 (1997): 125–133. Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilder-
ness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956; Henry Nash Smith, Virgin
Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1950).
At the conclusion of ‘‘Common Sense,’’ Paine speaks of ‘‘Freedom’’ in these
terms: ‘‘Freedom hath been hunted round the Globe. Asia and Africa have long
expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her
warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for
mankind.’’ He thus constructs manliness in terms of a competition between a
new, legitimate suitor and the illegitimate authorities who have maltreated
Freedom in the past. By contrast, Hamilton concludes two early historical para-
graphs about the failures of Pericles, Cardinal Wolsey, and King Louis XV with
this sentence: ‘‘The influence which the bigottry of one female, the petulancies
of another, and the cabals of a third, had in the co[n]temporary policy, ferments
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