Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) and Herman Melville (1819-1891) addressed in their writings a range of issues that continue to resonate in American culture: the reach and limits of democracy; the nature of freedom; the roles of race, gender, and sexuality; and the place of the United States in the world. Yet they are rarely discussed together, perhaps because of their differences in race and social position. Douglass escaped from slavery and tied his well-received nonfiction writing to political activism, becoming a figure of international prominence. Melville was the grandson of Revolutionary War heroes and addressed urgent issues through fiction and poetry, laboring in increasing obscurity.
In eighteen original essays, the contributors to this collection explore the convergences and divergences of these two extraordinary literary lives. Developing new perspectives on literature, biography, race, gender, and politics, this volume ultimately raises questions that help rewrite the color line in nineteenth-century studies.
Elizabeth Barnes, College of William and Mary
Hester Blum, The Pennsylvania State University
Russ Castronovo, University of Wisconsin-Madison
John Ernest, West Virginia University
William Gleason, Princeton University
Gregory Jay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Carolyn L. Karcher, Washington, D.C.
Rodrigo Lazo, University of California, Irvine
Maurice S. Lee, Boston University
Robert S. Levine, University of Maryland, College Park
Steven Mailloux, University of California, Irvine
Dana D. Nelson, Vanderbilt University
Samuel Otter, University of California, Berkeley
John Stauffer, Harvard University
Sterling Stuckey, University of California, Riverside
Eric J. Sundquist, University of California, Los Angeles
Elisa Tamarkin, University of California, Irvine
Susan M. Ryan, University of Louisville
David Van Leer, University of California, Davis
Maurice Wallace, Duke University
Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University
Kenneth W. Warren, University of Chicago