The Rise, Fall, and Revival of a Disparaged Rhetoric
Publication Year: 2013
Halpern examines these novels with a fresh eye by positioning sentimentality as a rhetorical strategy on the part of these novels’ (mostly) female authors, who used it to answer a question that plagued the male-dominated world of nineteenth-century American rhetoric and oratory: how could listeners be sure an eloquent speaker wasn’t unscrupulously persuading them of an untruth? The authors of sentimental novels managed to solve this problem even as the professional male rhetoricians and orators could not, because sentimental rhetoric, filled with tears and other physical cues of earnestness, ensured that an audience could trust the heroes and heroines of these novels. However, as a wider range of authors began wielding sentimental rhetoric later in the nineteenth century, readers found themselves less and less convinced by this strategy.
In her final discussion, Halpern steps beyond a purely historical analysis to interrogate contemporary rhetoric and reading practices among literature professors and their students, particularly first-year students new to the “close reading” method advocated and taught in most college English classrooms. Doing so allows her to investigate how sentimental novels are understood today by both groups and how these contemporary reading strategies compare to those of Americans more than a century ago. Clearly, sentimental novels still have something to teach us about how and why we read.
Published by: University of Iowa Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Prose 27:2 (2000), 47?61, in an article entitled ?Why We Should Trust Harriet Beecher Stowe.? A version of chapter 5 was originally published in College English 70:6 (2008), 551?77 (copyright 2008 by the National Council of Teachers of English): ?In Defense of Reading Badly: The Politics of Identification in ?Benito Cereno,? Uncle Tom?s Cabin, and Our ...
Introduction: The How of Sentimentality
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...works by Louisa May Alcott, editor Elaine Showalter excises the mar-riage 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 less satisfying jobs. Christie?s husband dies soon after their marriage, ...
1. Edward Tyrrel Channing and the Matter of Disingenuous Eloquence
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...sional 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 that faced a New England elitist like Edward Tyrrel Channing, the third ...
2. Why We Should Trust Harriet Beecher Stowe
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...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 en-sure that most members of the audience would have no way of telling whether they were being duped. He opts for the latter, making eloquence ...
3. The Art of Character in Louisa May Alcott’s Work
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...mental 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 riveted the nation and made people regret their previous susceptibility ...
4. Henry Ward Beecher and the Fall of the Sentimental Orator
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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 less popular after 1874), famous for his support of both abolition and ...
5. In Defense of Reading Badly
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...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 our own. Chapters 5 and 6 explore how much our own reading practices ...
6. The Problem with Being a Good Reader of Sentimental Rhetoric
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...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 tone. ?Why are you writing about texts that you feel so contemptuous ...
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Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2013