The Culture of Sentiment: Race, Gender, and Sentimentality in 19th-Century America / Edition 1

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Samuels's collection of critical essays gives body and scope to the subject of nineteenth-century sentimentality by situating it in terms of "women's culture" and issues of race. Presenting an interdisciplinary range of approaches that consider sentimental culture before and after the Civil War, these critical studies of American literature and culture fundamentally reorient the field. Moving beyond alignment with either pro- or anti-sentimentality camps, the collection makes visible the particular racial and gendered forms that define the aesthetics and politics of the culture of sentiment. Drawing on the fields of American cultural history, American studies, and literary criticism, the contributors include Lauren Berlant, Ann Fabian, Susan Gillman, Karen Halttunen, Carolyn L. Karcher, Joy Kasson, Amy Schrager Lang, Isabelle Lehuu, Harryette Mullen, Dana Nelson, Lora Romero, Shirley Samuels, Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Lynn Wardley, and Laura Wexler.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The essays provide an expansive treatment of the cult of sentimentality, ranging from art and popular culture to history and literature."—Choice

"This collection is exceptionally strong, the quality of the work consistently high. The volume will serve as a kind of benchmark in American cultural studies, for it consolidates a movement within the field that has been forming over the last ten years or so, and represents a coming-of-age of a particular kind of work: feminist, new historicist, race-class-gender oriented, and theoretically sophisticated without being jargon-ridden."—Jane Tompkins, Duke University

"A boldly articulated series of revaluations of the domestic body politic of nineteenth-century America. These essays, investigating domesticity as it is embodied in novels, autobiographies, journalism, educational handbooks, photography, and sculpture, will be valuable both to students of nineteenth-century culture and to those interested in how twentieth-century women evaluate their forebears' work in the constitution of nineteenth-century American life."—John Shoptaw, Princeton University

"[An] excellent volume: well-written and edited, beautifully produced and illustrated, and unusually well-integrated, this collection demands a place on the bookshelves of all with an interest in nineteenth-century American society....Despite the wide diversity of subjects and approaches, the shared theme of sentimentality results in an unusually unified volume, one that significantly broadens the debate over the place and significance of sentimentality in nineteenth-century America....All of the volume's essays are characterized by consistently high quality, theoretical sophistication, and innovative scholarship, but are mercifully free of jargon....As the contributors forge new pathways, their volume enriches all who share an interest in American culture and society. Their book is exciting and important, for it does nothing less than add new ways of conceptualizing women, men, and society in nineteenth-century America."—Journal of the Early Republic

"Invaluable....Samuels has arranged the collection so that the essays both intelligently complement and are informed by each other, creating a cohesive whole while providing a broad range of subjects and approaches to the function of sentimentality....The text will provide teachers and scholars of American literature and culture with a rich, much-needed mine of information and criticism on an aspect of nineteenth-century studies that has until very recently been insufficiently explored."—American Literature

"Of great interest to all those concerned with women's studies and psychoanalytic and Marxist interpretations."—The Historian

"Samuels must be commended for assembling fifteen essays that so skillfully discuss the central and wide-ranging position of sentimentalism in American culture....This volume is rich with insight..."— Nineteenth-Century Literature

"The most effective essays in this book not only analyze-with breathtaking historical and theoretical sophistication-the paradoxical effects of ninetheenth-century sentimentality in its own time, but also lay bare its links with twentieth-century perceptions of difference."—he Women's Review of Books

"The essays in this volume [are] very well worth reading."—Reviews in American History

"I consider this volume to be a significant contribution to an area of study that has considerably changed our view of American Studies....The contributors to this volume have no doubt added to the new perspectives already established in cultural studies and have further elaborated problematic areas of discourse in American culture. This volume will undoubtedly exert some impact on future historians of ideas in America."—English Literary History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195063547
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Tender Violence: Literary Eavesdropping, Domestic Fiction, and Educational Reform 9
2 "Domestic Differences": Competing Narratives of Womanhood in the Murder Trial of Lucretia Chapman 39
3 Rape, Murder, and Revenge in "Slavery's Pleasant Homes": Lydia Maria Child's Antislavery Fiction and the Limits of Genre 58
4 Sentimental Figures: Reading Godey's Lady's Book in Antebellum America 73
5 Bodily Bonds: The Intersecting Rhetorics of Feminism and Abolition 92
6 Vanishing Americans: Gender, Empire, and New Historicism 115
7 Class and the Strategies of Sympathy 128
8 Unseemly Sentiments: The Cultural Problem of Gambling 143
9 The Identity of Slavery 157
10 Narratives of the Female Body: The Greek Slave 172
11 Sympathy as Strategy in Sedgwick's Hope Leslie 191
12 Relic, Fetish, Femmage: The Aesthetics of Sentiment in the Work of Stowe 203
13 The Mulatto, Tragic or Triumphant? The Nineteenth-Century American Race Melodrama 221
14 Runaway Tongue: Resistant Orality in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Our Nig, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Beloved 244
15 The Female Woman: Fanny Fern and the Form of Sentiment 265
Notes 283
Contributors 341
Index 343
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