Fictions of America for Educators

“This shrewdly edited collection surprises at every turn. Focusing our attention on firsts, it introduces writers that have been overlooked by standard anthologies. At the same time, it changes our sense of chronology, giving us an American literature that is as unruly as it is vital.”
—Martin Puchner, Harvard University, author of The Written World: The Power of Stories to shape People, History, and Civilization

“In Baer and Dayal’s remarkable new volumewe see collected together for the first time the initial offerings of some of the country’s most significant writers. The ensemble reminds us that, our many differences notwithstanding, we are all continually striving, experimenting, smashing shibboleths, and waiting for yet another fresh voice and pioneering talent to make itself known.”
—Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Harvard University, author of Archives of Flesh: Spain, African America, and Post-Humanist Critique

“A timely reflection on the early American literary imagination, this collection tells new stories of artistic originality through a stunningly diverse array of authors published across three centuries.”
—Sarah Rivett, Professor of English and American Studies, Princeton University

“No understanding of the literary origins of the United States or its many peoples will look the same after you read this feast of literary firsts….Now, for the first time, we can read these firsts together and see a history of the United States no other book made available before. This book of firsts from the American past points the way to a new American future.”
—Robert Dale Parker, Frank Hodgins Professor of English, University of Illinois

“Gathers a fascinating series of texts, some familiar, many not, that does nothing less than uncover a new American literature. This anthology of new beginnings, spanning four centuries, with a superb introduction by the editors, will be essential and eye-opening to students and scholars alike.”
—Ross Posnock, Anna S. Garbedian Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University

“Exquisitely edited with judicious selections and expert introductions, Baer and Dayal present in Fictions of America a way of reframing the times and timings of American literary history.”
—Ivy Wilson, author of Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Nationalism

“Representing a multiplicity of perspectives….this collection is an important chronicle of our complex and varied literary history.”
—Wendy Martin, Professor of American Literature & American Studies, Claremont Graduate University

“In providing students with an anthology that celebrates the creativity, boldness, and critical insight of historically marginalized authors, Fictions of America: The Book of Firsts is itself the first of its kind.”
—Hsuan Hsu, Professor of English, University of California, Davis

“A remarkable new perspective on a quintessentially American idea: the idea of firstness….The writers gathered here imagined the nation in poetry and prose before it even came into being as a political entity.”
—Mita Banerjee, Professor and Chair of American Studies, University of Mainz

Desk and exam copies available as a pdf.