Did God Write Moby-Dick?
This essay takes up two conceptual formations of great consequence to Herman Melville: “religion” and “literature.” Part of what binds them so tightly for Melville, I argue, is a set of transformative upheavals in liberal culture we now call by another name: “secularism.” In the fury and articulate despair of his novel – which mourns the sequestering of the public enterprise of theology within a zone of personal piety, “influence” – Melville maps out in cartographic detail the solidification of what would become “literature” as such as a by-product of secular discipline.
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About the American Literature Seminar Series
The American Literature Seminar, active since 2013, provides a forum for works in progress that explore the history of American Literature.
The seminar is sponsored by the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. The seminar’s co-coordinators are Walter Benn Michaels (UIC) and Kenneth Warren (University of Chicago).