Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. 6-7

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-ix

I wish first to thank those who materially supported me in the writing of this book: the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, for a year-long fellowship in 2009–2010 that allowed me to finish my research and writing in residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while enjoying the ideal balance of freedom and collegiality; the University of Tennessee, for co-funding my year of leave at the Academy and, through the Hodges Better English Fund ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-22

Growing up in Orange County, California, in the 1980s, I attended the churches of two superstar preachers. The first, in elementary and middle school, was Robert H. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, a “walk-in, drive-in church” known around the world through the weekly television broadcast The Hour of Power ...

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1. Creating Authority in the Pulpit

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pp. 23-45

In Chapter 8 of Moby-Dick, Ishmael sits in the Whaleman’s Chapel and eyes the bow-front pulpit with the jutting fiddlehead scrollwork. How full of meaning, he thinks: “For the pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. [ . . . ] Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete, and the pulpit is its prow.”1 ...

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2. The Slow Rise of the Novel in America

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pp. 46-67

In the “Reading” chapter of Walden (1854), Thoreau heaps contempt on novels and those who read them. Scorning the silliness of fictive love stories, he mocks “the nine thousandth tale about Zebulon and Sephronia,” parodies an advertisement for a novel (“The Skip of the Tip-Toe-Hop, a Romance of the Middle Ages”), and ridicules the absorption of novel-readers: “All this they ...

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3. The Radical Protestant Preaching of George Lippard

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pp. 68-105

George Lippard was one of the most widely read authors in antebellum America, a prolific writer and impassioned labor advocate who penned an impressive array of novels, short stories, patriotic legends, and essays between 1841 and his death in 1854 at age thirty-two. The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall; A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (1845) may have been “the best-selling American novel before ...

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4. Secularizing the Sermon in The Scarlet Letter

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pp. 106-128

As an ad ult, Rose Hawthorne related a deliciously symbolic incident from her father’s boyhood that her aunt Elizabeth, or “Ebe,” had told her. As a child Ebe had owned a tinted bust of John Wesley, one with flowing, white hair and a countenance that seemed to say, “‘My sermon is endless!’” Hawthorne ...

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5. Playing Preacher in Moby-Dick

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pp. 129-155

Unlikely as it sounds, a minister may have sparked Melville’s desire to write a book as wild and ambitious as Moby-Dick. In 1839, Unitarian Orville Dewey delivered the lecture “On Reading” to the Mechanics’ Library Association in New York City.1 ...

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6. The Unsentimental Woman Preacher of Uncle Tom's Cabin

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pp. 156-173

... Holmes’s review castigated Stowe’s unseemly appropriation of male authority with a biblical passage routinely invoked to deny women the pulpit (1 Tim. 2:11–12), even though Stowe had not physically addressed a congregation, led public prayer, or aligned herself with the nascent women’s rights movement and its call for women’s ordination. For Holmes, Stowe was in error not ...

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7. The Borrowed Robes of Clotel; or, The President's Daughter

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pp. 174-196

In the first chapter of Clotel, the first known novel by an African American, the eponymous sixteen-year-old daughter of Thomas Jefferson stands on the block as the auctioneer drives up her price by calling out her virtues. The first bid is $500, prompting the auctioneer to belittle the crowd’s ignorance of the going rate for such “fancy girls” and to vouch for her “good moral character.” ...

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Conclusion: The Lingering Rivalry

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pp. 197-206

The sermon was both the centerpiece of Protestant worship in antebellum America and the culture’s paradigmatic voice of moral authority. Seeking to avoid the caricature of sermons as tedious and oppressive, I have tried to cast them in a more sympathetic light by showing how ministers worked to make them meaningful, powerful experiences for listeners, and how novelists, resentful and resistant, sought to usurp preacherly ...

Notes

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pp. 207-258

Works Cited

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pp. 259-283

Index

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pp. 284-293

Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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pp. 305-306