Patriotism is defined as the “vigorous support for one’s country” and has long been an important literary theme. This volume traces patriotism in literature from ancient Greek devotion to the city-state in Homer’s Iliad to examining how the civil rights movement impelled America to live up to its ideals in a discussion of the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Motivated by patriotism, Americans serve their country, join protests to support or reject military decisions, and join civil/voter rights movements. How patriotism has been defined, embraced, and sometimes rejected throughout history, and how literature reflects this theme, are explored from diverse perspectives in this volume.
This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory piece, “Patriotism and Me” by Ben Railton which discusses the connection between patriotism and literature.
Following the introductory essay, a collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the topic (1) from a historical vantage point, (2) in terms of pre-existing discussion of the topic, (3) using a specific critical lens, and (4) by comparing and contrasting at least two different texts. This section opens with an essay by Fabian Horn titled, “Patriotism in Homer’s Illiad.” This essay examines Iliad in a historical approach, arguing that the patriotism evident in that work might best be called “proto-patriotism.” This is followed by a piece written by Joyce Ahn, “Recent Discussions of Patriotism by Philosophers: A Survey.” The following two articles are written by Edwin Wong and Kenneth Kitchell respectively. The first, “Aeschylus’s Seven against Thebes: A Patriot’s Portrait of a Patriot,” dealing at length with themes of patriotism through Aeschylus’s play Seven against Thebes as well as with other ancient Greek texts through a distinctive critical lens. The final essay, “Ancient Greek ‘Patriotism’: Sophocles and Athens,” discusses Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus and the importance of ancient Greeks, specifically, Oedipus, to belong to a polis and how significant the loss of social, political, and religion interconnections provided was.
Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- Ancient Greek Patriotism, A Study in Opposites: Pericles and Alcibiades, by Kenneth Kitchell
- Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V: A Survey of Reviews, by Robert C. Evans
- “Only a Patriot to Heaven”: Herman Melville’s Ambivalent Patriotism, by Brian Yothers
- Living in Mark Twain’s Mind: A Fifty-Year Puzzle, by Alan Gribben
- Dulce Domum: Conversation about Home and Homeland in The Wind in the Willows, by Brandon Schneeberger
- The Price of Patriotism: Opportunity Cost and the American Dream in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, by Edwin Wong
- Still Plagued by Deathbed Advice: Invisible Man’s, and Ralph Ellison’s Struggle to Find a Home, by Steven D. Ealy
- Zora Neale Hurston’s “Patriotic” Anti-Communism, by Robert C. Evans
- Zora Neale Hurston’s “Patriotic” Support for Robert Taft, by Robert. C Evans
- Race and Patriotism in Hidden Figures: A Survey of Critical Responses, by Mikia Holloway
- Citizenship: Academic and Otherwise, by Peter C. Herman
In the final section, Resources, a select bibliography of additional works that are pertinent to the theme is provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Patriotism includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and an alphabetical Index.
The Critical Insights series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Patriotism provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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