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Time, Tropes, and Textuality: Reading Republicanism in Charles Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas"

From: Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 2003
pp. 385-413 | 10.1353/rap.2003.0070


By focusing on civic republicanism as the "problem of time" and on the related critical concepts of "rhetorical timing," iconicity, and imitation, this essay theorizes a hermeneutic republicanism. In practice the essay treats Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" as both a rhetorical confrontation with, and representation of, the republican "problem of time." The "Crime" is structured by organic tropes of political community and its organizing temporal themes systematically ebb and flow iconically to represent the life cycle of the republic within the life cycle of the textual performance. The essay concludes with ruminations on the role such a hermeneutic republicanism might play in ongoing scholarly debates.