the Continent: "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way"
Currier & Ives (Frances Palmer and James Ives).
Image borrowed from Antique
Prints and Maps.
No one image can reflect
the diversity of my teaching, but this one captures much of 19th century
America, where most of my literary interests are.
For most of the century, the New York firm of Nathan Currier and James
Ives was immensely popular as "Publishers of Colored Engravings for the
People." Their prints of familiar American scenes, selling for 5¢ to 25¢
apiece, were easy to understand and were executed without artiness. This
famous lithograph by Ives from an original drawing by Fanny Palmer fairly
teems with icons of the nation's faith in its "manifest
destiny": a frontier settlement at the edge of civilization is the
last stop on the wagon trail, while newly-laid train tracks stretch west to the
horizon. On the cars is lettered Through Line New York San
Francisco, predicting the completion of the first transcontinental
railroad in May of the following year.