In this Book

summary

What is the role of sex in the age of democratic beginnings? Despite the sober republican ideals of the Enlightenment, the literature of America’s early years speaks of unruly, carnal longings. Elizabeth Dill argues that the era’s proliferation of texts about extramarital erotic intimacy manifests not an anxiety about the dangers of unfettered feeling but an endorsement of it. Uncovering the more prurient aspects of nation-building, Erotic Citizens establishes the narrative of sexual ruin as a genre whose sustained rejection of marriage acted as a critique of that which traditionally defines a democracy: the social contract and the sovereign individual.

Through an examination of philosophical tracts, political cartoons, frontispiece illustrations, portraiture, and the novel from the antebellum period, this study reconsiders how the terms of embodiment and selfhood function to define national belonging. From an enslaved woman’s story of survival in North Carolina to a philosophical treatise penned by an English earl, the readings employ the trope of sexual ruin to tell their tales. Such narratives advanced the political possibilities of the sympathetic body, looking beyond the marriage contract as the model for democratic citizenship. Against the cult of the individual that once seemed to define the era, Erotic Citizens argues that the most radical aspect of the Revolution was not the invention of a self-governing body but the recognition of a self whose body is ungovernable.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Title Page, Copyright,
  2. pp. i-iv
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Illustrations
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Erotic Citizens
  1. Introduction: Sexual Ruin and the Early American Novel
  2. pp. 1-22
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. The Aesthetic Work of the Ruin Narrative
  2. pp. 23-41
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Ruin’s Subject in Shaftesbury’s Characteristicks
  2. pp. 42-76
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Incest and the Nature of Ruin in the Novels of William Hill Brown
  2. pp. 77-101
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Seduction and the Patriotism of Ruin in Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette
  2. pp. 102-125
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Ruin, Martyrdom, and the Spectacle of Sympathy from Clotel to The Scarlet Letter
  2. pp. 126-154
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Ruin, Rape, and the Aesthetic Work of Clarissa in England and America
  2. pp. 155-196
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Conclusion: The Anatomy of Ruin
  2. pp. 197-220
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 221-258
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 259-272
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Index
  2. pp. 273-284
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download

Additional Information

ISBN
9780813943381
Related ISBN
9780813943398
MARC Record
OCLC
1108816441
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-02
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.