Eng 341 - Arnold
class presentation essay: Dona Brown, "Inventing New England"
Channing and Emerson, in their respective essays "On National Literature" and "the American Scholar," provide two models for American cultural development in which to situate Brown's article: the dual role of literature to contribute to both an Emersonian-ideal of nature and to the commidification of the American landscape -- in which both landscape and literature move from a central "interest" to peripheral backdrop for the tourist. Brown's attention to New England tourism and its development addresses the manifestation of what was left only potential by the Channing text, and subsequently addresses the functioning of literature for those not part of Emerson's ideal.
The "second revolution" for Channing would be one of American letters, yet one founded upon both an intensity of competition with Europe and the embarrassment of an as yet emergent native literature; readying the commodification seen in the Brown article. Channing says:
It [a people] should resolve strenuously to be surpassed by none. It should feel that the mind is the creative power, through which all the resources of nature are to be turned to account, and by which a people is to spread its influence, and establish the noblest form of empire. (259) A primary and essential means of the improvement of our literature is, that, as a people, we should feel its values, should demand it, should encourage it, and should give it a hearty welcome. It will come if called for; and, under this conviction, we have now labored to create a want for it in the community.The commodification addressed by Brown, who cites Emerson's distinguishing the "stick of timber of the woodcutter from the tree of the poet" as the original dichotomy between layman and poet which is conflated by the capitalism of the tourist industry, is foreshadowed by Channing's statement. The proscriptive doctrine set by Emerson and Channing in their models; there is for both men the "right" vision, the transcendental vision, which is utilized as the selling point for visiting the White Mountains.
Compelling the dissemination of the Emerson-Channing American Culture is their proscriptive model and its mandates upon the American tourist, a model into which Brown's article affords a view of its potential for self-defeat in the hands of the catering businessman. It brings into question how the idealism of Emerson and Channing and their texts are disseminated throughout American culture, and if such a process exists for the non-scholar, the non-Ernest of Hawthorne's story.