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By W. C. Harris

"Out of many, one." yet how do the various turn into one with no sacrificing distinction or autonomy? This challenge used to be serious to either identification formation and country formation in past due 18th- and 19th-century the United States. the idea of this booklet is that American writers of the time got here to view the answer of this primary philosophical challenge as now not the specific province of legislative or judicial records yet in a position to being addressed via literary texts in addition. The venture of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying quandary is the final philosophic challenge of the single and the numerous because it got here to be understood on the time. W. C. Harris provides a close account of the family tree of the concept that, exploring either its purposes and its paradoxes as a foundation for country and identification formation. Harris then considers the perilous integration of the only and the numerous as a cause within the significant literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon serious in addition to historic assets and upon contexts as different as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses makes an attempt via Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to solve the issues of social development brought on by the ambiguity of e pluribus unum by means of writing literary and philosophical texts that complement the nation's political founding files. Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The sorts of non secular event) offer their very own precise, occasionally contradictory resolutions to the conflicting calls for of range and team spirit, equality and hierarchy. each one of those texts is familiar with literary and philosophical writing as having the capability to transform--conceptually or actually--the development of social order. This paintings should be of serious curiosity to literary and constitutional scholars.

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