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Hemispheric Encounters

The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective

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Edited By Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez and Markus Heide

In the decades following the American Revolution, literary and cultural discourses, but also American collective and individual identification were shaped by transatlantic relations and inter-American exchanges and conflicts. The way Americans defined themselves as a nation and as individuals was shaped by such historical events and social issues as the Haitian Revolution, the struggles for independence in Spanish America, ties with Caribbean slave economies, and rivalries with other colonial powers in the Americas. Contextualizing transatlantic and inter-American relations within a framework of the Western Hemisphere, the essays collected in this volume discuss inter-American relations in the early United States, and in American, European and Spanish-American writing of the period.
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Markus Heide & Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez – Introduction: The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective

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Markus Heide & Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez

Introduction: The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective

This volume originates in a conference on the topic of “Hemispheric Encounters” that took place at Leipzig University in April 2012. The conference provided early Americanists from Europe and the United States with research interests in transnational approaches a forum for discussion and exchange. The conference was funded by the German Research Foundation as part of our research projects on “Post-Revolutionary Identity Constructions in a Transnational Perspective” (Pisarz-Ramirez) and on “The Trans-National Imagination in Early American Travel Writing” (Heide). Our research has been significantly influenced by twentieth and twenty-first century scholarship that complicates interpretations of early American culture, which often persisted in a national paradigm marked by exceptionalist tendencies. The questions raised and the discussions that emerged during our gathering in Leipzig form the conceptual basis for this volume.

The location of the conference in Europe is one indication of the continually increasing interest of Europe-based scholars of early American history, literature, and culture in transnational approaches to the history of the United States, particularly in notions of American history that conceptualize the national emergence of the United States not primarily in transatlantic space but just as much in the Western hemisphere. As Ralph Bauer highlights, European scholars’ interest in the history of the Americas (in its entirety) can be traced back to the 1950s when the Italian historian Antonello Gerbi published his comparative hemispheric studies of...

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