Writing the Self: Philip Freneau’s Homeostatic Poetic Production
Traditional research has focused on the figure of Philip Freneau (1752-1832) as the champion of the late-eighteenth-century North American colonies’ idiosyncrasy rather than on the reasons why Romantic and Neoclassical fashions coexist in his poetry. The present study aims to roaden current critical horizons by exploring the presence of a systematic pattern within Freneau’s poetic production wherein the Neoclassical and Romantic literary traditions lie in complementary distribution—a distribution conditioned by the public and private nature of the texts and explainable in terms of an underlying principle of literary homeostasis. The major features of a representative selection of Freneau’s poetic writings are thoroughly examined and correlated with the process whereby the author’s private and public identities are constructed. Ultimately, the analysis evinces Philip Freneau’s deliberate use of poetry as an esthetic conduit meant for individual and communal self-representation and elaboration.
Keywords: Philip Freneau; Neoclassicism; Romanticism; self-expression; self-construction; homeostasis
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