№12 2022

УДК / UDK: 82-1


Author: Elena M. Apenko
About the author:

Elena M. Apenko, PhD in Philology, independent researcher, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


The paper presents the analysis of attendant texts in the poems of one of the authors of the American Enlightenment epoch Joel Barlow (1755 –1812) “The Vision of Columbus” (1787) and “The Columbiad” (1807). G. Genette pointed out that paratext as a system of secondary texts is the constituent part of the totality of literary work and produces its impact upon the reader. The examination of the titles, prefaces and commentaries undertaken in the paper helps to reveal means and mechanisms used by Barlow to originate the contact with the reader, and also reach the poems’ pragmatic potential. According to J. Barlow‘s intention the synergy of the text and all the paratext elements was to generate a coherent narrative of American history “from Columbus to Washington.” Comprehensive unity of the poems’ texts and their peritexts address the dual goal. First, they create a large-scale historic panorama, and on the other hand strive to implant onto readers’ minds some philosophic and political ideas having both crucial importance for the national identity formation in general, but also momentary relevance. But in “The Columbiad” paratext acquires an additional dimension of ideological and methodological guidance. The author reveals his narrative strategies defining the reading procedure. The poem’s paratext explicitly records author’s awareness of the crisis of the Enlightenment aesthetic conscience at the turn of the 18th –19th centuries. So, the comparison of paratextuality of the two poems created with an interval of 20 years at some point presents the logic of fate of the Enlightenment literature in the USA.

Keywords: Enlightenment literature, Joel Barlow, “The Vision of Columbus,” “The Columbiad,” paratext, act of communication.
For citation:

Apenko, Elena. “Context of the Text: Paratextuality of Joel Barlow’s Poems.” Literature of the Americas, no. 12 (2022): 175–197. 


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