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Cyrus Patell Bio

Negative Liberties: Morrison, Pynchon, and the Problem of Liberal Ideology

Duke University Press, February 2001

Since the nineteenth century, ideas centered on the individual, on Emersonian self-reliance, and on the right of the individual to the pursuit of happiness have had a tremendous presence in the United States - and even ore so after the Reagan era.  But has this presence been for the good of all?  In Negative Liberties Cyrus R.K. Patell revises important ideas in the debate about individualism and the political theory of liberalism.  He does so by adding two new voices to the current discussion - Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon - to examine the different ways in which their writings embody, engage, and critique and the official narrative generated by U.S. liberal ideology.  Pynchon and Morrison reveal the official narrative of individualism as encompassing a complex structure of contradiction held in abeyance.  This narrative imagines that the goals of the individual are not at odds with the goals of the family or society and in fact obscures the existence of an unholy truce between individual liberty and forms of oppression.  By bringing these two fiction writers into a discourse dominated by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, George Kateb, Robert Bellah, and Michael Sandel, Patell unmasks the ways in which contemporary U.S. culture has not fully shed the oppressive patterns of reasoning handed down by the slaveholding culture from which American individualism emerged.

With its interdisciplinary approach, Negative Liberties will appeal to students and scholars of American literature, culture, sociology, and the politics.

ISBN-10: 0822326698,   ISBN-13: 978-0822326694

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"Emergent Literatures, 1940-1990" in the Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 7.

Cambridge University Press, 1999

Volume 7 examines a broad range of American literature of the past half century, revealing complex relations to changes in society. Christopher Bigsby discusses American dramatists from Tennessee Williams to August Wilson. Morris Dickstein describes the condition of rebellion in fiction from 1940 to 1970. John Burt discusses the writers of the American South. Wendy Steiner examines postmodern fictions since 1970. Finally, Cyrus Patell highlights the voices of Native American, Asian American, Chicano, gay and lesbian writers.

ISBN-10: 0521497329,  ISBN-13: 978-0521497329




Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York City

(co-edited with Bryan Waterman), Cambridge University Press, April 2010

New York holds a special place in America's national mythology as both the gateway to the USA and as a diverse, vibrant cultural center distinct from the rest of the nation. From the international atmosphere of the Dutch colony New Amsterdam, through the expansion of the city in the nineteenth century, to its unique appeal to artists and writers in the twentieth, New York has given its writers a unique perspective on American culture. This Companion explores the range of writing and performance in the city, celebrating Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton, Eugene O'Neill, and Allen Ginsberg among a host of authors who have contributed to the city's rich literary and cultural history. Illustrated and featuring a chronology and guide to further reading, this book is the ideal guide for students of American literature as well as for all who love New York and its writers.

ISBN-10: 0521514711,  ISBN-13: 978-0521514712

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Negative Liberties Cover






"Emergent Literatures, 1940-1990" ures, 1940-1990" in The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 7



Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York City
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