Joan Richardson provides a fascinating and compelling account of the emergence of the quintessential American philosophy: pragmatism. She demonstrates pragmatism's engagement with various branches of the natural sciences and traces the development of Jamesian pragmatism from the late nineteenth century through modernism, following its pointings into the present. Richardson combines strands from America's religious experience with scientific information to offer interpretations that break new ground in literary and cultural history. This book exemplifies the value of interdisciplinary approaches to producing literary criticism. In a series of highly original readings of Edwards, Emerson, William and Henry James, Stevens, and Stein, A Natural History of Pragmatism tracks the interplay of religious motive, scientific speculation, and literature in shaping an American aesthetic. Wide-ranging and bold, this groundbreaking book will be essential reading for all students and scholars of American literature.

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