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The oxymoron of American pastoralismAuthor(s): G. Sayre
Source: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory. 69(4): 1-23.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionPastoralism has been variously defined in American literary studies. In European literature the pastoral persisted as a distinct genre and self-conscious literary tradition from Theocritus and Virgil through the eighteenth century. Major eighteenth and nineteenth-century American authors alluded to this tradition, but they could not really lay claim to it, for as this essay will argue, the European pastoral was inapplicable to the American setting, both socially and ecologically: socially because although early Anglo-America was by no means a classless society, the distinction between landowners and shepherds was scarcely relevant in the young United States; and ecologically because the pastoral way of life, defined as a subsistence based upon herds of livestock, was not indigenous to America.
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CitationSayre, G. 2013. The oxymoron of American pastoralism. Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory. 69(4): 1-23.
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