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American Studies / History / Literature & Criticism

American Jeremiad
Anniversary Edition, with a new preface
Sacvan Bercovitch

Studies in American Thought and Culture
Paul Boyer, Series Editor

“Sacvan Bercovitch is a giant in American studies. This book was his first classic work— and others followed. He stands alongside Perry Miller and F. O. Matthiessen as indispensable figures in our understanding of American civilization.”
—Cornel West, Princeton University

When Sacvan Bercovitch’s The American Jeremiad first appeared in 1978, it was hailed as a landmark study of dissent and cultural formation in America, from the Puritans’ writings through the major literary works of the antebellum era. For this long-awaited anniversary edition, Bercovitch has written a deeply thoughtful and challenging new preface that reflects on his classic study of the role of the political sermon, or jeremiad, in America from a contemporary perspective, while assessing developments in the field of American studies and the culture at large.

“A deeply learned, revolutionary break with the dominant consensus models from Perry Miller through F. O. Matthiessen, The American Jeremiad rediscovered the prophetic core of American literature and culture, and it demonstrated how fully our national identity has been forged from conflicted narratives of self-examination and redemption. The author’s brilliant and searching new introduction brings this classic work boldly into the twenty-first century.”—Eric J. Sundquist, Johns Hopkins University 

Sacvan Bercovitch is the Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a  former president of the American Studies Association and the general editor of the eight-volume Cambridge History of American Literature.

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Image is of a dead tree standing as a flagpole with clouds and a sunset forming red and white stripes and a break in the clouds revealing a blue sky with stars shining

April 2012

LC: 78-053283 PS
290 pp.    5 1/2 x 8 1/2

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-28864-8
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This new anniversary edition replaces the 1978 cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-07350-3, and the 1980 paper edition, ISBN 978-0-299-07354-1, both out of print.

“For more than three decades, Sacvan Bercovitch's work has both charted the most promising path and posed the most profound challenge to the academic project of radical political critique of U. S. literature and culture. So long as ‘change we can believe in’ amounts, by definition, to ‘forms of renewal that confirm the basic tenets of the system,’ as Bercovitch deftly puts it in his new preface to this classic study, The American Jeremiad will remain new and necessary.”
—Evan Carton. University of Texas at Austin  

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Updated February 15, 2012

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