"In Utter Fearlessness of the Reigning Disease": Imagined Immunities and the Outbreak Narratives of Charles Brockden Brown
Abstract

With an increased focus on the intersection of literature and medicine, contagion has become something of a scholarly buzzword in early American studies: it serves metaphorically to demarcate the postcolonial other, demonstrates the transmissibility of revolutionary rhetoric, highlights the instability of republican government, and embodies fears of racial mixture. In this essay, I shift the emphasis from a discourse of contagion (often associated with a fear of the foreign) to a discourse of immunity (a fear associated with foreign immunities) in order to demonstrate a more affirmative biopolitics in Charles Brockden Brown's 1790s outbreak narratives. This affirmative biopolitics can emerge only after deconstructing the intersection of biology and politics in the so-called "age of democratic revolutions."


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