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After Franklin
The Emergence of Autobiography in Post-Revolutionary America, 1780–1830
Stephen Carl Arch



Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2001 • 255 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - American / Cultural Studies / Biography / American Studies

$26.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-132-1



An analysis of the foundations of autobiography in America

Although much has been written about Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, other writers of what Stephen Arch calls “self-biographies” in post-revolutionary America have received scant scholarly attention. This rich variety of texts dramatically shows the complex nature of 19th-century concepts of identity. Arguing that “autobiography” is a modern invention, Arch shows its emergence in the older, conservative self-biographies of Alexander Graydon, Benjamin Rush, and Ethan Allen and in the newer, more progressive, and even radical self-biographies of K. White, Elizabeth Fisher, Stephen Burroughs, and John Fitch. Describing the evolution of a concept as elastic as “the self” is not easy, but Arch offers a unique and imaginative study of the emergence of a specifically modern American identity.



STEPHEN CARL ARCH, Associate Professor of English at Michigan State University, is author of Authorizing the Past: The Rhetoric of History in Seventeenth-Century New England.