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30+ Works 1,674 Members 2 Reviews

About the Author

Paul Lauter is Allan K. and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of Literature Emeritus at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He has served as President of the American Studies Association (of the United States), and he is General Editor of the groundbreaking Heath Anthology of American show more Literature, now in its seventh edition. show less

Series

Works by Paul Lauter

Canons and Contexts (1991) 29 copies
Theories of comedy (1964) 25 copies

Associated Works

Trials of the Resistance (1970) — Contributor — 29 copies

Tagged

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1932
Gender
male
Nationality
USA
Education
New York University
Indiana University
Yale University
Occupations
Professor
Organizations
Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
American Studies Association
Awards and honors
Bode-Pearson (prize for lifetime achievement in American Studies, 2006)
Jay Hubbell Award (lifetime achievement in American Literary Study, 2001)
Short biography
Paul Lauter is an icon of American Studies who has been a primary agent in its transformation and its chief ambassador abroad. He is Allan K. and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of Literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He has served as President of the American Studies Association (of the United States), and he is General Editor of the groundbreaking Heath Anthology of American Literature, now in its sixth edition. In the 1960s, Lauter served as Peace Education Secretary and Director of Peace Studies for the American Friends Service Committee, and executive director of the U.S. Servicemen's Fund. During 1964 and 1965 he worked in freedom schools in Mississippi, then in Roosevelt University's Upward Bound program, and in 1967 he became director of the first community school project in the nation, at Adams-Morgan in Washington, D.C. He was also active in the faculty and staff union at the State University of New York, serving as statewide vice-president for academics, as chapter president, and as grievance officer, among other positions. He was also one of the founders of The Feminist Press and its treasurer and an editor for fourteen years.

Lauter has served as director of American Studies, as English department chair, and has for many years been the director of the graduate program in American Studies.

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Reviews

Lauter demonstrates the way American Studies has evolved since its official inception around the middle of the twentieth century. What is studied and how it is studied has changed in American Studies as interdisciplinary expansion has allowed cultural studies, gender studies, queer studies, and other disciplines to inform and shape it. Lauter illustrates these changes throughout the book as he analyzes the history of American Studies and uses some of these new disciplines to look at certain issues in the discipline. Even though American Studies has diversified, Lauter contends that these methods are logically connected and essential in studying such diverse subject matter. By complicating the borders of American Studies, he seeks to expand and move the discipline forward towards a more politicized and meaningful discourse.

He also argues that the American literary canon was created and perpetuated by academic elites who served as the arbiters of taste in the first half of the twentieth century. The revival of Melville in the 1920s and the rise of the Modernists Eliot and Pound were emblematic of the creation of an American cannon to the exclusion of women and African-Americans writing at the same time. Literary anthologies and the development of the New Criticism served to a-historicize and depoliticize the American literary art of that time. Lauter contends that previous American Studies scholarship failed to take into account the “borderland” aspect of American culture, specifically Mexican-Americans and Native Americans. The canon of American studies therefore failed to fully acknowledge the contributions of these ethnic minorities to American culture.

From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park complicates what American Studies entails, thereby expanding and diversifying its method and subject of study. Lauter challenges the reader and scholars to contextualize and historicize subject matter in American Studies. An even more interdisciplinary and complex approach seems to be his solution to keeping American Studies viable and relevant in modern scholarship.
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Statistics

Works
30
Also by
2
Members
1,674
Popularity
#15,358
Rating
3.9
Reviews
2
ISBNs
82

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