Sovereignty and Public Life in Antebellum American Writing
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title page, copyright, dedication
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The University at Albany, State University of New York, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the United University Professions provided research support for travel to libraries and archives during the summers of 2006 and 2007. I was able to complete the majority...
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“Could the kind reader have been quietly riding along the main road to or from Easton, that morning, his eyes would have met a painful sight.” Midway through My Bondage and My Freedom, Frederick Douglass longs for an impossible spectator: a witness to the daily abominations of slavery who is in no way implicated...
1. “The thing is new”: Sovereignty and Slavery in Democracy in America
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In a long footnote appended to Democracy in America’s most famous chapter, “Tyranny of the Majority,” Tocqueville offers two anecdotes whose relationship to each other appears, at first, to lie in the illustration of his claim that democratic government in the United States is by no means too weak, “as many Europeans make...
2. Color, Race, and the Spectacle of Opinion in Beaumont’s Marie
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If Tocqueville struggled to name the new thing that haunted him about U.S. political and social life, it would seem that his traveling companion had no such trouble. Gustave de Beaumont’s novel, Marie; or, Slavery in the United States, opens with the frank admission...
3. “The Hangman’s Accomplice”: Spectacle and Complicity in Lydia Maria Child’s New York
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In an 18 August 1842 column written for the National Anti-Slavery Standard during her two-year tenure as the paper’s editor, Lydia Maria Child recalled the anti-abolitionist riots of the 1830s as a specter that had haunted the antislavery movement for...
4. The Spectacle of Reform: Theater and Prison in Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance
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Pursued by a “deep sadness” from Blackwell’s Island to Barnum’s Museum—from prison to theater, as it were—Lydia Maria Child offers one of her era’s more haunting accounts of democracy’s melancholy. As she dissects the affective consequences of participating...
5. Theatricality, Strangeness, and Democracy in Melville’s Confidence-Man
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In an unpublished manuscript fragment composed sometime in 1856, which may or may not have been intended as a chapter for The Confidence-Man, Melville offers a brief sketch of a shifting, discontinuous, and very strange subject that, whatever...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010