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Cultures of Solitude

Loneliness – Limitation – Liberation

Edited By Ina Bergmann and Stefan Hippler

This collection of essays comprises cultural analyses of practices of eremitism and reclusiveness in the USA, which are inseparably linked to the American ideals of individualism and freedom. Covering a time frame from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, the essays study cultural products such as novels, poems, plays, songs, paintings, television shows, films, and social media, which represent the costs and benefits of deliberate withdrawal and involuntary isolation from society. Thus, this book offers valuable contributions to contemporary cultural discourses on privacy, surveillance, new technology, pathology, anti-consumerism, simplification, and environmentalism. Solitaries can be read as trailblazers for an alternative future or as symptoms of a pathological society.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Ina Bergmann and Stefan Hippler


I Solitude and American Studies

Ina Bergmann

Cultures of Solitude: Reflections on Loneliness, Limitation, and Liberation in the US

II Early Solitude: Language, Body, and Gender

Svend Erik Larsen

“Alone, Without a Guide”: Solitude as a Literary and Cultural Paradox

Kevin L. Cope

The Enigmatic and the Ecological: American Late Enlightenment Hermits and the Pursuit of, in Addition to Happiness, Permanence

Coby Dowdell

“The Luxury of Solitude”: Conduct, Domestic Deliberation, and the Eighteenth-Century Female Recluse

III Solitude in the Nineteenth Century: Gender, Politics, and Poetics

Ina Bergmann

“Away to Solitude, to Freedom, to Desolation!”: Hermits and Recluses in Julia Ward Howe’s The Hermaphrodite

Margaretta M. Lovell

Thoreau and the Landscapes of Solitude: Painted Epiphanies in Undomesticated Nature

Hélène Quanquin

“The World to Each Other”: The Joint Politics of Isolation and Reform among Garrisonian Abolitionists

IV Solitude from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century: Society, Spirituality, and Religion

Ira J. Cohen

Three Types of Deep Solitude: Religious Quests, Aesthetic Retreats, and Withdrawals due to Personal Distress

Kevin Lewis

American Lonesome: Our Native Sense of Otherness

V Solitude in the Twentieth Century: Space, Gender, and Ethnicity

Randall Roorda

“Mind Is the Cabin”: Substance and Success in Post-Thoreauvian Second Homes

Nassim Winnie Balestrini

Socially Constructed Selfhood: Emily Dickinson in Full-Cast and Single-Actor Plays

Jochen Achilles

Changing Cultures of Solitude: Reclusiveness in Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street

VI Solitude from the Twentieth to the Twenty-First Century: Space, Identity, and Pathology

Clare Hayes-Brady

“It’s What We Have in Common, This Aloneness”: Solitude, Communality, and the Self in the Writing of David Foster Wallace

Rüdiger Heinze

Alone in the Crowd: Urban Recluses in US-American Film

VII Solitude Today: Technology, Community, and Identity

Stefan Hippler

Solitude in the Digital Age: Privacy, Aloneness, and Withdrawal in Dave Eggers’s The Circle

Scott Slovic

Going Away to the Wilderness for Solitude … and Community: Ecoambiguity, the Engaged Pastoral, and the ‘Semester in the Wild’ Experience

Robert J. Coplan and Julie C. Bowker

Should We Be Left Alone? Psychological Perspectives on the Implications of Seeking Solitude