There was at least one essay for every year from 1975 to 2003.
Not coincidentally, 1975 was the year D’Agata was born — a detail he announced in the book’s first headnote.
And both were also inspiring teachers whose influence reached beyond the classroom. General readers know Abrams and Aaron best for their work as editors and anthologists.
Abrams taught for almost 40 years at Cornell, where his students included Harold Bloom, Gayatri Spivak, E. Abrams edited the , first published in 1957 and now in its 11th edition.
Sometimes they offered a short, suggestive reading of the essay at hand.
Rarely did one headnote do all three, but all together they constituted a running disquisition by D’Agata about the lyricism of the next American essay — but always lyricism as he defines it.Its editors bill it as full of a vast variety of ethnic literature, “available in five volumes for great flexibility,” and as central to the “multicultural transformation of American literary studies.” Nelson’s attempt something similar, promising to introduce students to poets “who have not been anthologized before” and to “both canonical and lesser-known selections by women, minority, Native American, and progressive writers only rediscovered in the past two decades.” John D’Agata, who teaches writing at the University of Iowa, has quite different goals.Unlike Aaron and Abrams he is a writer, not a literary critic.was not just different; it was also groundbreaking and even, as D’Agata himself suggested, cocky.The anthology contained essays by 30 essayists, some of them new, some of them well known.IN THE LAST YEAR and a half, literary studies lost two titans: M. Abrams, at 102 in April 2015, and Daniel Aaron, who died this past spring, at 103. Aaron taught at Smith for 30 years and then at Harvard for 12.The careers of these two men were built on their early books: Abrams’s studies of British Romanticism, Both men continued to write, however, throughout their amazingly long lives, each of them managing to publish a book after turning 100. He was instrumental in building the multi-disciplinary approach known as American Studies.The headnotes continued in that personal and even idiosyncratic vein. Sometimes his headnotes reminded us what was going on in the culture (or in his own life) at the time the essay first appeared.Sometimes they introduced the writer being featured for that year.She would try an anthology of his contemporary American selections and see how it sold. Beginning with the New Journalism of the ’60s, writers like Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Jamaica Kincaid, Barry Lopez, John Mc Phee, and Susan Sontag (all of whom appeared in series was in its 17th year, and creative nonfiction was finally beginning to work its way into MFA writing programs.Most essay anthologies, however, were still geared toward First-Year Writing courses.