American poetry--19th century--History and criticism, American poetry--Women authors--History and criticism, Persuasion (Rhetoric), Social problems in literature, and Sentimentalism in literature
At a time when a woman speaking before a mixed-gender audience risked acquiring the label “promiscuous,” thousands of women presented their views about social or moral issues through sentimental poetry, a blend of affect with intellect that allowed their participation in public debate. Bridging literary and rhetorical histories, traditional and semiotic interpretations, Antebellum American Women's Poetry: A Rhetoric of Sentiment explores an often overlooked, yet significant and persuasive pre–Civil War American discourse. Considering the logos, ethos, and pathos—aims, writing personae, and audience appeal—of poems by African American abolitionist Frances Watkins Harper, working-class prophet Lydia Huntley Sigourney, and feminist socialite Julia Ward Howe, Wendy Dasler Johnson demonstrates that sentimental poetry was an inportant component of antebellum social activism. She articulates the ethos of the poems of Harper, who presents herself as a properly domestic black woman, nevertheless stepping boldly into Northern pulpits to insist slavery be abolished; the poetry of Sigourney, whose speaker is a feisty, working-class, ambiguously gendered prophet; and the works of Howe, who juggles her fame as the reformist “Battle Hymn” lyricist and motherhood of five children with an erotic Continental sentimentalism. Antebellum American Women's Poetry makes a strong case for restoration of a compelling system of persuasion through poetry usually dismissed from studies of rhetoric. This remarkable book will change the way we think about women's rhetoric in the nineteenth century, inviting readers to hear and respond to urgent, muffled appeals for justice in our own day.
Williamson, Jennifer A. and Williamson, Jennifer A.
Sentimentalism in literature and American literature--20th century--History and criticism
Today's critical establishment assumes that sentimentalism is an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary mode that all but disappeared by the twentieth century. In this book, Jennifer Williamson argues that sentimentalism is alive and well in the modern era. By examining working-class literature that adopts the rhetoric of “feeling right” in order to promote a proletarian or humanist ideology as well as neo-slave narratives that wrestle with the legacy of slavery and cultural definitions of African American families, she explores the ways contemporary authors engage with familiar sentimental clichés and ideals.Williamson covers new ground by examining authors who are not generally read for their sentimental narrative practices, considering the proletarian novels of Grace Lumpkin, Josephine Johnson, and John Steinbeck alongside neo-slave narratives written by Margaret Walker, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison. Through careful close readings, Williamson argues that the appropriation of sentimental modes enables both sympathetic thought and systemic action in the proletarian and neo-slave novels under discussion. She contrasts appropriations that facilitate such cultural work with those that do not, including Kathryn Stockett's novel and film The Help. The book outlines how sentimentalism remains a viable and important means of promoting social justice while simultaneously recognizing and exploring how sentimentality can further white privilege.Sentimentalism is not only alive in the twentieth century. It is a flourishing rhetorical practice among a range of twentieth-century authors who use sentimental tactics in order to appeal to their readers about a range of social justice issues. This book demonstrates that at stake in their appeals is who is inside and outside of the American family and nation.
In this fascinating study, Chris Messenger posits F. Scott Fitzgerald as a great master of sentiment in modern American fiction. Sentimental forms both attracted and repelled Fitzgerald while defining his deepest impulses as a prose writer. Messenger demonstrates that the sentimental identities, refractions, and influences Fitzgerald explores in Tender Is the Night define key components in his affective life, which evolved into a powerful aesthetic that informed his vocation as a modernist writer. In “Tender Is the Night” and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Sentimental Identities, Messenger traces the roots of Fitzgerald's writing career to the deaths of his two infant sisters a few months before his own birth. It was their loss, Fitzgerald wrote, that made him a writer. Messenger highlights how the loss of Fitzgerald's siblings powerfully molded his relation to maternal nurturing and sympathy in Tender Is the Night as well as how it shaped the homosocial intimations of its care-giving protagonist, psychiatrist Dick Diver. A concomitant grief and mourning was fueled by Fitzgerald's intimate and intense creative rivalry with his often-institutionalized wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. While sentiment is a discredited strain in high modernism, Fitzgerald nevertheless embraced it in Tender Is the Night to fashion this most poignant and beautiful successor to The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's aesthetic and emotional preoccupations came most vividly to life in this major novel. Messenger describes how Fitzgerald, creating his character Nicole Warren Diver as a victim of paternal incest, finally found the sentimental key to finishing his novel and uniting his vision of the two narratives of “saving” the two sisters and reimagining the agony of his wife and their marriage. Fitzgerald's productive quarrel with and through sentiment defines his career, and Messenger convincingly argues that Tender Is the Night should be placed alongside TheGreat Gatsby as a classic exemplar of the modern novel.
Sentimentalism in literature, National characteristics, American, in literature, American fiction--19th century--History and criticism, Violence in literature, and Empathy in literature
Working to reconcile the Christian dictum to'love one's neighbor as oneself'with evidence of U.S. sociopolitical aggression, including slavery, corporal punishment of children, and Indian removal, Elizabeth Barnes focuses her attention on aggressors--rather than the weak or abused--to suggest ways of understanding paradoxical relationships between empathy, violence, and religion that took hold so strongly in nineteenth-century American culture.Looking at works by Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott, among others, Barnes shows how violence and sensibility work together to produce a more'sensitive'citizenry. Aggression becomes a site of redemptive possibility because salvation is gained when the powerful protagonist identifies with the person he harms. Barnes argues that this identification and emotional transformation come at a high price, however, as the reparative ends are bought with another's blood. Critics of nineteenth-century literature have tended to think about sentimentality and violence as opposing strategies in the work of nation-building and in the formation of U.S. national identity. Yet to understand how violence gets folded into sentimentality's egalitarian goals is to recognize, importantly, the deep entrenchment of aggression in the empathetic structures of liberal, Christian culture in the United States.
Children's stories, Canadian--History and criticism, Orphans in literature, Children's stories, American--History and criticism, Girls in literature, Child rearing in literature, Canadian fiction--19th century--History and criticism, Canadian fiction--20th century--History and criticism, American fiction--20th century--History and criticism, Sentimentalism in literature, and American fiction--19th century--History and criticism
At the heart of some of the most beloved children's novels is a passionate discussion about discipline, love, and the changing role of girls in the twentieth century. Joe Sutliff Sanders traces this debate as it began in the sentimental tales of the mid-nineteenth century and continued in the classic orphan girl novels of Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. M. Montgomery, and other writers still popular today. Domestic novels published between 1850 and 1880 argued that a discipline that emphasized love was the most effective and moral form. These were the first best sellers in American fiction, and by reimagining discipline as a technique of the heart—rather than of the whip—they ensured their protagonists a secure, if limited, claim on power. This same ideal was adapted by women authors in the early twentieth century, who transformed the sentimental motifs of domestic novels into the orphan girl story made popular in such novels as Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna. Through close readings of nine of the most influential orphan girl novels, Sanders provides a seamless historical narrative of American children's literature and gender from 1850 until 1923. He follows his insightful literary analysis with chapters on sympathy and motherhood, two themes central to both American and children's literature, and concludes with a discussion of contemporary ideas about discipline, abuse, and gender. Disciplining Girls writes an important chapter in the history of American, women's, and children's literature, enriching previous work about the history of discipline in America.
National characteristics, British, in literature, Sentimentalism in literature, British--Foreign countries, Expatriation in literature, Material culture in literature, English fiction--19th century--History and criticism, Personal belongings in literature, and Property in literature
What fueled the Victorian passion for hair-jewelry and memorial rings? When would an everyday object metamorphose from commodity to precious relic? In Portable Property, John Plotz examines the new role played by portable objects in persuading Victorian Britons that they could travel abroad with religious sentiments, family ties, and national identity intact. In an empire defined as much by the circulation of capital as by force of arms, the challenge of preserving Englishness while living overseas became a central Victorian preoccupation, creating a pressing need for objects that could readily travel abroad as personifications of Britishness. At the same time a radically new relationship between cash value and sentimental associations arose in certain resonant mementoes--in teacups, rings, sprigs of heather, and handkerchiefs, but most of all in books. Portable Property examines how culture-bearing objects came to stand for distant people and places, creating or preserving a sense of self and community despite geographic dislocation. Victorian novels--because they themselves came to be understood as the quintessential portable property--tell the story of this change most clearly. Plotz analyzes a wide range of works, paying particular attention to George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, Anthony Trollope's Eustace Diamonds, and R. D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone. He also discusses Thomas Hardy and William Morris's vehement attack on the very notion of cultural portability. The result is a richer understanding of the role of objects in British culture at home and abroad during the Age of Empire.
Imperialism in literature, Colonies in literature, Sentimentalism in literature, English fiction--18th century--History and criticism, and French fiction--18th century--History and criticism
In this ambitious and original study, Lynn Festa examines how and why sentimental fiction became one of the primary ways of representing British and French relations with colonial populations in the eighteenth century. Drawing from novels, poetry, travel narratives, commerce manuals, and philosophical writings, Festa shows how sentimentality shaped communal and personal assertions of identity in an age of empire.Read in isolation, sentimental texts can be made to tell a simple story about the emergence of the modern psychological self. Placed in conversation with empire, however, sentimentality invites both psychological and cultural readings of the encounter between self and other. Sentimental texts, Festa claims, enabled readers to create powerful imagined relations to distant people. Yet these emotional bonds simultaneously threatened the boundaries between self and other, civilized and savage, colonizer and colonized. Festa argues that sentimental tropes and figures allowed readers to feel for others, while maintaining the particularity of the individual self. Sentimental identification thus operated as a form of differentiation as well as consolidation.Festa contends that global reach increasingly outstripped imaginative grasp during this era. Sentimentality became an important tool for writers on empire, allowing conquest to be portrayed as commerce and scenes of violence and exploitation to be converted into displays of benevolence and pity. Above all, sentimental texts used emotion as an important form of social and cultural distinction, as the attribution of sentience and feeling helped to define who would be recognized as human.
American literature--1783-1850--History and criticism, Gender identity in literature, Politics and literature--United States--History--19th century, Politics and literature--United States--History--18th century, Citizenship in literature, Sex role in literature, Sentimentalism in literature, and Human body in literature
Sentimentalism, sex, the construction of the modern body, and the origins of American liberalism all come under scrutiny in this rich discussion of political life in the early republic. Here Bruce Burgett enters into debates over the'public sphere,'a concept introduced by Jurgen Habermas that has led theorists to grapple with such polarities as public and private, polity and personality, citizenship and subjection. With the literary public sphere as his primary focus, Burgett sets out to challenge the Enlightenment opposition of reason and sentiment as the fundamental grid for understanding American political culture. Drawing on texts ranging from George Washington's'Farewell Address'and Charles Brockden Brown's Clara Howard to Hannah Foster's The Coquette and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Burgett shows that the sentimental literary culture of the period relied on readers'affective, passionate, and embodied responses to fictive characters and situations in order to produce political effects. As such, sentimentalism located readers'bodies both as prepolitical sources of personal authenticity and as public sites of political contestation. Going beyond an account of the public sphere as a realm to which only some have full access, Burgett reveals that the formation of the body and sexual subjectivity is crucial to the very construction of that sphere. By exploring and destabilizing the longstanding distinction between public and private life, this book raises questions central to any democratic political culture.