Keeping Ourselves Alive
  • ISSN 1053-6981
  • E-ISSN: 2405-9374
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AbstractIn the historical event of the American Revolution, as well as in certain central texts of the American literary imagination, a tension between the power of a community to define itself through language and the resistance of experiential history to such enclosure is represented through a particular form of narrative silence. This narrative form may first suggest repression and the failures of memory. But the American imagination has used narrative silence as a way of representing events that lie outside of the known and planned, in order to preserve the residual life of experience and so to bear witness to the imagina-tion's dependence on the whole of history. In this essay, I argue that this narrative form reveals a central paradox of the American cultural imagination: This imagination successfully encodes its story of community exactly insofar as it creates a place—in language and in thought—for the safely silent acknowl-edgement of the power of experiential knowledge and untold secrets. (Culture studies; literary criticism)


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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