Perfecting Friendship: Politics and Affiliation in Early American Literature [NOOK Book]

Overview

Contemporary notions of friendship regularly place it in the private sphere, associated with feminized forms of sympathy and affection. As Ivy Schweitzer explains, however, this perception leads to a misunderstanding of American history. In an exploration of early American literature and culture, Schweitzer uncovers friendships built on a classical model that is both public and political in nature.

Schweitzer begins with Aristotle's ideal of ...
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Perfecting Friendship: Politics and Affiliation in Early American Literature

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Overview

Contemporary notions of friendship regularly place it in the private sphere, associated with feminized forms of sympathy and affection. As Ivy Schweitzer explains, however, this perception leads to a misunderstanding of American history. In an exploration of early American literature and culture, Schweitzer uncovers friendships built on a classical model that is both public and political in nature.

Schweitzer begins with Aristotle's ideal of "perfect" friendship that positions freely chosen relationships among equals as the highest realization of ethical, social, and political bonds. Evidence in works by John Winthrop, Hannah Foster, James Fenimore Cooper, and Catharine Sedgwick confirms that this classical model shaped early American concepts of friendship and, thus, democracy. Schweitzer argues that recognizing the centrality of friendship as a cultural institution is critical to understanding the rationales for consolidating power among white males in the young nation. She also demonstrates how women, nonelite groups, and minorities have appropriated and redefined the discourse of perfect friendship, making equality its result rather than its requirement. By recovering the public nature of friendship, Schweitzer establishes discourse about affection and affiliation as a central component of American identity and democratic community.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Recommended."—CHOICE

"Intellectually intrepid. . . . Ambitious and thought-provoking."—Legacy

"A brilliant exercise in analysis."—Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807876718
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/6/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 650 KB

Meet the Author

Ivy Schweitzer is professor of English at Dartmouth College. She is author and coeditor of three other books, including The Work of Self-Representation: Lyric Poetry in Colonial New England (from the University of North Carolina Press).

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: The Renascence of Friendship: A Story of American Social and Political Life     1
Smoke and Mirrors: A History of Equality and Interchangeability in Friendship Theory     27
"Familiar Commerce": John Winthrop's "Modell" of American Affiliation     73
Hannah Webster Foster's Coquette: Resurrecting Friendship from the Tomb of Marriage     103
Eat Your Heart Out: James Fenimore Cooper's Male Romance and the American Myth of Interracial Friendship     133
The Ethical Horizon of American Friendship in Catharine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie     165
Epilogue: The Persistence of Second Selves     207
Notes     211
Works Cited     239
Index     259
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