Twenty-first century America puzzles many citizens and observers. A frequently cited phrase to describe current partisan divisions is Lincoln's 'A house divided against itself cannot stand', a warning of the perils to the Union from divisions generated by slavery. America seems divided in almost every way, on almost every attitude. Civic dialogue on issues often seems extremely difficult. America is an experiment always in process, a remarkable union of 300 million diverse people covering all races and faiths. As a forum in which ideologies and interpretations abound, literary studies has a role to play in explanation and analysis. The series Cambridge Themes in American Literature and Culture will address the key cultural themes that have brought America to its current moment. Primarily reference books, they will offer a summation of critical knowledge on key cultural themes while also offering an intervention in the present moment. This series will offer a distinctive, authoritative treatment of the key literary and cultural strains in American life while also pointing in new critical directions.
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