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The recent emphasis on interdisciplinary scholarship—manifest in the resurgence of institutional programs like American studies and publications in cultural studies—has relocated both the literary critic and the literary text to unfamiliar territory. This new interest in broaching disciplinary limits has proved to be exciting and invigorating. Literary critics have turned their attention to media other than the written text,and nonliterary specialists,such as historians and sociologists,have used literary texts to support their own research. This book is a response to American literary interdisciplinarity and attempts to raise,and address,the inevitable questions that emerge when disciplines collaborate: What can texts tell us about American culture or history? How can literary interpretive methods be adapted to other fields? What do literary texts evidence?