During the period of 1800 to 1850, critics and scholars speculated on the development of a literature of America's own, in light of the nation's newly won independence. Critics at this time were unanimous in the belief that literature should endorse and promote national social interests and purposes,' write John W. Rathbun and Monica M. Grecu in this DLB volume's foreword. And they viewed 'truth rather than aesthetic qualities as the final end of literature.' By the mid-19th century a generation of younger critics favored subjectivity, diversity and the 'dethronement of intellect,' according to Rathbun and Grecu in choosing the time span for this volume. Profiles represent the best-known and most influential critical voices of the period.
43 entries include: George Bancroft, Orestes A. Brownson, William Cullen Bryant, William Dunlap, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Sarah Margaret Fuller, Washington Irving, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Therese Robinson.