Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The How of Sentimentality

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pp. xi-xxiv

In Alternative Alcott, a collection of lesser-known works by Louisa May Alcott, editor Elaine Showalter excises the marriage that occupies the last part of Work: A Story of Experience. In the original version, published in 1873, the protagonist, Christie Devon, marries a good Quaker man after having taken a series of more and...

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1. Edward Tyrrel Channing and the Matter of Disingenuous Eloquence

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pp. 1-30

This chapter examines a problem that beset the professional male orators and rhetoricians of nineteenth-century America. It explains why this problem would remain insoluble for them despite their great exertions to solve it. It is likely that most contemporary readers will not have a great deal of sympathy for the professional conundrum...

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2. Why We Should Trust Harriet Beecher Stowe

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pp. 31-64

Edward Tyrrel Channing faced the bind that all professional male rhetoricians and orators faced in nineteenth-century America. He could endorse the natural orator and make rhetorical training unnecessary. Or he could defend rhetorical training and ensure that most members of the audience would have no way of telling...

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3. The Art of Character in Louisa May Alcott’s Work

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pp. 65-82

The Minister’s Wooing charts the triumph of the sentimental orator; Henry Ward Beecher embodies his downfall. But Louisa May Alcott has already foretold his defeat. Only a decade and a half separates The Minister’s Wooing from the “scandal summer” of 1874, when the alleged affair of Henry Ward Beecher with one of his parishioners...

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4. Henry Ward Beecher and the Fall of the Sentimental Orator

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pp. 83-110

Christie is a transitional figure on the way toward Henry Ward Beecher, whom Sinclair Lewis called “a combination of St. Augustine, Barnum, and John Barrymore” (qtd. in Hibben viii).1 From 1847 until 1887, the year of his death, Henry Ward Beecher was the wildly popular minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn (he was...

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5. In Defense of Reading Badly

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pp. 111-136

The first four chapters of this book have created a picture of the sentimental reader. How was she meant to read? What was she meant to believe? What happens when she ceases to read a certain way and believe certain things? By establishing the character of this nineteenth-century reader, I believe that we might better understand...

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6. The Problem with Being a Good Reader of Sentimental Rhetoric

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pp. 137-160

Although scholars traditionally have begun their studies of the nineteenth-century “scribbling women” with a personal anecdote, I have saved mine to the end. When I was finishing graduate school and showed a draft of my dissertation on Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott to a fellow graduate student, she fastened on the...

Appendix

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pp. 161-164

Notes

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pp. 165-196

Works Cited

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pp. 197-210

Index

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pp. 211-215