Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature by Tracy Fessenden | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature

Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature

by Tracy Fessenden
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691049637

ISBN-13: 9780691049632

Pub. Date: 11/06/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Many Americans wish to believe that the United States, founded in religious tolerance, has gradually and naturally established a secular public sphere that is equally tolerant of all religions—or none. Culture and Redemption suggests otherwise. Tracy Fessenden contends that the uneven separation of church and state in America, far from safeguarding an

Overview

Many Americans wish to believe that the United States, founded in religious tolerance, has gradually and naturally established a secular public sphere that is equally tolerant of all religions—or none. Culture and Redemption suggests otherwise. Tracy Fessenden contends that the uneven separation of church and state in America, far from safeguarding an arena for democratic flourishing, has functioned instead to promote particular forms of religious possibility while containing, suppressing, or excluding others. At a moment when questions about the appropriate role of religion in public life have become trenchant as never before, Culture and Redemption radically challenges conventional depictions—celebratory or damning—of America's "secular" public sphere.

Examining American legal cases, children's books, sermons, and polemics together with popular and classic works of literature from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, Culture and Redemption shows how the vaunted secularization of American culture proceeds not as an inevitable by-product of modernity, but instead through concerted attempts to render dominant forms of Protestant identity continuous with democratic, civil identity. Fessenden shows this process to be thoroughly implicated, moreover, in practices of often-violent exclusion that go to the making of national culture: Indian removals, forced acculturations of religious and other minorities, internal and external colonizations, and exacting constructions of sex and gender. Her new readings of Emerson, Whitman, Melville, Stowe, Twain, Gilman, Fitzgerald, and others who address themselves to these dynamics in intricate and often unexpected ways advance a major reinterpretation of American writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691049632
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/06/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

INTRODUCTION 1

PART ONE: Protestantism and the Social Space of Reading 13

CHAPTER ONE: Legible Dominion: Puritanism's New World Narrative 15
CHAPTER TWO: Protestant Expansion, Indian Violence, and Childhood Death: The New England Primer 34
CHAPTER THREE: From Disestablishment to "Consensus": The Nineteenth-Century Bible Wars and the Limits of Dissent 60
CHAPTER FOUR: Conversion to Democracy: Religion and the American Renaissance 84

PART TWO: Secular Fictions 109

CHAPTER FIVE: From Romanism to Race: Uncle Tom's Cabin 111
CHAPTER SIX: Mark Twain and the Ambivalent Refuge of Unbelief 137
CHAPTER SEVEN: Secularism, Feminism, Imperialism: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Progress Narrative of U.S. Feminism 161
CHAPTER EIGHT: F. Scott Fitzgerald's Catholic Closet 181

AFTERWORD: American Religion and the Future of Dissent 213

Notes 219
Bibliography 289
Index 323

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