Most frequently regarded as a writer of the supernatural, Poe was actually among the most versatile of American authors, writing social satire, comic hoaxes, mystery stories, science fiction, prose poems, literary criticism and theory, and even a play. As a journalist and editor, Poe was closely in touch with the social, political, and cultural trends of nineteenth-century America. Recent scholarship has linked Poe's imaginative writings to the historical realities of nineteenth-century America, including to science and technology, wars and politics, the cult of death and bereavement, and, most controversially, to slavery and stereotyped attitudes toward women. Edgar Allan Poe: Beyond Gothicism presents a systematic approach to topical criticism of Poe, revealing a new portrait of Poe as an author who blended topics of intellectual and social importance and returned repeatedly to these ideas in different works and using different aesthetic strategies during his brief but highly productive career. Twelve essays point readers toward new ways of considering Poe's themes, techniques, and aesthetic preoccupations by looking at Poe in the context of landscapes, domestic interiors, slavery, prosody, Eastern cultures, optical sciences, Gothicism, and literary competitions, clubs, and reviewing.
1 Introduction 2 "Poe's 'Philosophy of Furniture' and the Aesthetics of Fictional Design" 3 Race, Pirates, and Intellect: A Reading of Poe's "The Gold Bug" 4 Storytelling, Narrative Authority, and Death in "The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade" 5 The Man in the Text: Reading Masculinity in "The Man That Was Used Up," "The Man of the Crowd," and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" 6 Gothic DisPLACEments: Poe's South in Politian 7 Poe in the Ragged Mountains: Environmental History and Romantic Aesthetics 8 "King Pest" and the Tales of the Folio Club 9 Understanding "Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling" 10 "Eyes which Behold": Poe's "Domain of Arnheim" and the Science of Vision 11 "A Species of Literature Almost Beneath Contempt": Edgar Allan Poe and the World of Literary Competitions 12 Poe's Early Criticism of American Fiction:The Southern Literary Messenger and the Fiction of Robert Montgomery Bird 13 Mad Ravings, Sound Philosophy, and Poe's Review of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 14 General Bibliography 15 Index