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From Emerson to King : Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest - Anita Haya Patterson

From Emerson to King

Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest

Hardcover

Published: 1st March 1997
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This book traces a provocative line from Emerson's work on race, reform, and identity to work by three influential African- American thinkers--W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cornel West--each of whom offers subtle engagement with both the tradition of written protest and the critique of liberalism Emerson shaped. Emerson has been cast in recent debate as either an antinomian or an ideologue--as either subversive of institutional controls or indebted to capitalism. Here, Patterson contributes a more nuanced view, probing Emerson's record and its cultural and historical matrix to document a fundamental rhetoric of contradiction--a strategic aligning of opposed political concepts--that enabled him to both affirm and critique elements of the liberal democratic model. Drawing richly on topics in political philosophy, law, religion, and cultural history, Patterson examines the nature and implications of Emerson's contradictory rhetoric in parts I and II. In part III she considers Emerson's legacy from the perspective of African-American intellectual history, identifying fresh continuities and crucial discontinuities between the canonical strain of protest writing Emerson helped establish and African-American literary and philosophical traditions.

"This elegant book contributes importantly to ongoing conversations about and in the tradition of Emerson's founding work at that peculiarly American crossing of literature, history, and engaged citizenship."--Kathryne V. Lindberg, Wayne State University "Patterson's richly textured contribution...demonstrates that students of public discourse would benefit immeasurably from re-evaluating Emerson's rhetorical legacy in light of the racialist discourses that marked nineteenth-century America. His contributions to contemporary social thought have significant...implications for political obligation and community in the next millennium."--Rhetoric and Public Affairs "From Emerson to King is a major contribution to the field of American Studies. Anita Patterson offers a brilliant and compelling revision of five central aspects of American culture: the concept of Protestant selfhood, reaching from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries; the dynamics of economic individualism, involving the debates over slavery in the Jacksonian and antebellum periods; the shifting and volatile relations in this country between race and nationality, from the abolitionists to the Civil Rights Movement; the abiding legacy of protest in W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr.; and the complex Emersonian influence in American letters, politics, and thought. This book is passionately argued, impressively learned, and enormously suggestive. It deserves the widest attention."--Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University "It takes an original cast of mind to link the conceptions of race of Emerson and King, via Du Bois. But in so doing, Anita Patterson not only sheds new light on all three of these thinkers, but illuminates in new ways the tortured history of American democracy itself."--Eric Foner, Columbia University "This elegant book contributes importantly to ongoing conversations about and in the tradition of Emerson's founding work at that peculiarly American crossing of literature, history, and engaged citizenship."--Kathryne V. Lindberg, Wayne State University "A brilliant study of Emerson's thought..."--Va Quarterly "Sommer guides us through exciting intellectual terrain that includes incisive considerations of [various] theorists. She challenges us and trains us to unlearn our desire for readerly mastery. Therein lies the intellectual and political mastery of [the book]."--American Literature

Introduction: Reconciling Race and Rightsp. 3
Defining the Public: Representative Menp. 11
Property and the Body in Naturep. 24
The Poetics of Contradiction: Religious and Political Emblems in "The American Scholar"p. 50
"Self-Reliance": The Ethical Demand for Reformp. 81
Locating the Limits of Consent in "Friendship"p. 99
The Claims of Double-Consciousness: Race, Nationalism, and the Problem of Political Obligationp. 126
W. E. B. Du Bois and the Critique of Liberal Nationalismp. 159
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Publicity, Disobedience, and the Revitalization of American Democratic Culturep. 177
Epiloguep. 198
Notesp. 201
Indexp. 251
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195109153
ISBN-10: 0195109155
Series: W.E.B. DuBois Institute
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st March 1997
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 13.21 x 2.54  x 27.81
Weight (kg): 0.73