A New York Mirror: Urban Literary Intellectuals and the Image of the National Individual, 1794-1861

Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn


authorship, intellectual history, journalism, national identity, nationalism, New York City

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


"A New York Mirror" is an intellectual and cultural history of American nationhood in the early nineteenth century. It traces how several interrelated circles of literary intellectuals in New York City articulated the nature of the American nation in print. Describing the work of writers associated with the Friendly Club, the Lads of Kilkenny, the Bread and Cheese Lunch, Freedom's Journal, the New York Evening Post, the New York Mirror, and the Knickerbocker Magazine, this study argues that the idea of American cultural nationhood functioned in their writing as a way to define the individual citizen. Unlike studies of nationalism that ascribe the emergence of nation-consciousness to partisan politics and other forms of group conflict, this study argues that one of the nation's crucial purposes was to anchor a sense of individual selfhood amid the rapid changes of a commercial and urbanizing society.


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