Cultural Explorations of US Expansion
Forthcoming from the University Press of Kansas, Fall 2019. If “manifest destiny” defined a process of US territorial acquisition, it was a messy one. If it described an era in history, its boundaries were fuzzy. Although the drive across North America in the early nineteenth century represented a unique period with its own peculiarities and consequences, it nevertheless figured within a long continuum of empire that predated, and continued after, the creation of the United States. In its own moment, opponents within and without the nation loudly contested the assumptions of expansion at every point along its timeline. Its outcome was not inevitable. Its implementation was often uncoordinated, accidental, and fraught with alternative contingencies, but the proponents of expansion worked deliberately and aggressively to achieve their dreams. In so doing, they often contradicted their professed virtuousness. Inventing Destiny seeks to inspire a dialogue between scholars from History, American Studies, Literary Studies, Art History, and Religious Studies to demonstrate the value of multidisciplinary explorations of US expansion. Together, the contributors strive for fresh analyses of the many discourses that epitomize the current trends in the study of US territorial acquisition, examining a wide variety of source material. In so doing, they illuminate complexities rather than simplify them. They transgress borders rather than re-draw them. They amplify the under-told stories rather than repeat the old ones. In addition to myself, the contributors include Chad. A. Barbour, Daniel J. Burge, Maria Angela Diaz, Andy Doolen, Gerritt Dirkmaat, Kenneth Haltman, Matthew Johnston, Elana Krischer, Thomas Richards Jr., Sarah L. Roberson, and Laurel Clark Shire.