The Multiple Worlds of Pynchon's Mason & Dixon : Eighteenth-Century Contexts, Postmodern Observations


The Multiple Worlds of Pynchon's Mason & Dixon : Eighteenth-Century Contexts, Postmodern Observations



Edited by College at Brockport faculty member and former English Department chair: Elizabeth Jane Wall Hinds.

When Thomas Pynchon's novel Mason & Dixon was published in 1997, it marked a deep shift in Pynchon's career and in American letters in general. Mason & Dixon moved beyond postmodernism to re-create an 18th century when "America" was being formed as both the place and the idea we have come to know. Pynchon's focus on the creation of the Mason-Dixon Line and the governmental and scientific entities responsible for it makes a clearer statement than any of his previous novels about the slavery and imperialism at the heart of the Enlightenment, and Mason & Dixon levels a dark and hilarious critique at this "America."

This volume of new essays studies the interface between 18th- and 20th-century culture both in Pynchon's novel and in the historical past. It offers fresh thinking about Pynchon's work not only because it deals with his most recent novel, but also because the contributors take up the linkages between the 18th and 20th centuries in studies that are as concerned with culture as with the literary text itself.

The scope of the volume is indicated by its four sections: "Time and the Rounds of History," about historiography and narrative temporality; "Consumption Then and Now," which deals with slavery, trade, and consumption; "Space and Power," which confronts the connections between "place" and imperial power in the 18th century; and "Enlightenment Microhistories," which studies in detail three specific 18th-century cultural incidents.



Publication Date


Publication Information

Rochester, NY : Camden House, 2005.

viii, 222 p. ; 24 cm.

Series: Studies in American literature and culture


English Language and Literature




Located in Drake Library at: PS3566.Y55 M3736 2005

CONTENTS: "The space that may not be seen" : the form of historicity in Mason & Dixon / Mitchum Huehls -- The sweetness of immorality : Mason & Dixon and the American sins of consumption / Brian Thill -- Consumption on the frontier : food and sacrament in Mason & Dixon / Colin A. Clarke -- "America was the only place--" : American exceptionalism and the geographic politics of Pynchon's Mason & Dixon / Pedro García-Caro -- Postmodernism at sea : the quest for longitude in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon and Umberto Eco's The island of the day before / Dennis M. Lensing -- Haunting and hunting : bodily resurrection and the occupation of history in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon / Justin M. Scott Coe -- "Our madmen, our paranoid" : enlightened communities and the mental state in Mason & Dixon / Ian D. Copestake -- General Wolfe and the weavers : re-envisioning history in Pynchon's Mason & Dixon / Frank Palmeri.