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Grant number like: FEL-257517-18

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Samuel Otter
University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA 94704-5940)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018

Literary Form in the Works of Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Completion of a book-length study on literary form in the works of American author Herman Melville.

I analyze what “form” meant to Herman Melville, in concept and in literary practice, with the hope that such an inquiry not only will illuminate his complex career, which in its variety, scope, and duration continues to elude most readers and critics, but also will advance our understanding of this key term in literary studies. Across the chapters, I examine verbal form in terms of the relationships that give it definition: between parts and wholes, structure and duration, inside and outside, word and image, and prose and poetry. Focusing on Melville, whose work has served an exemplary function in the development of American literary criticism, and revising our understanding of the forms and form of his literary career, I provide an alternative to the persistent, resurgent, and misguided choice between “form” and “history,” “text” and “context.” Rather than an alternative to such relations, literary form is located at their tense, vibrant intersection.