Sentimental Bodies: Sex, Gender, and Citizenship in the Early Republic [NOOK Book]

Overview

Sentimentalism, sex, the construction of the modern body, and the origins of American liberalism all come under scrutiny in this rich discussion of political life in the early republic. Here Bruce Burgett enters into debates over the "public sphere," a concept introduced by Jurgen Habermas that has led theorists to grapple with such polarities as public and private, polity and personality, citizenship and subjection. With the literary public sphere as his primary focus, Burgett sets out to challenge the ...

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Sentimental Bodies: Sex, Gender, and Citizenship in the Early Republic

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Overview

Sentimentalism, sex, the construction of the modern body, and the origins of American liberalism all come under scrutiny in this rich discussion of political life in the early republic. Here Bruce Burgett enters into debates over the "public sphere," a concept introduced by Jurgen Habermas that has led theorists to grapple with such polarities as public and private, polity and personality, citizenship and subjection. With the literary public sphere as his primary focus, Burgett sets out to challenge the Enlightenment opposition of reason and sentiment as the fundamental grid for understanding American political culture.

Drawing on texts ranging from George Washington's "Farewell Address" and Charles Brockden Brown's Clara Howard to Hannah Foster's The Coquette and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Burgett shows that the sentimental literary culture of the period relied on readers' affective, passionate, and embodied responses to fictive characters and situations in order to produce political effects. As such, sentimentalism located readers' bodies both as prepolitical sources of personal authenticity and as public sites of political contestation. Going beyond an account of the public sphere as a realm to which only some have full access, Burgett reveals that the formation of the body and sexual subjectivity is crucial to the very construction of that sphere. By exploring and destabilizing the longstanding distinction between public and private life, this book raises questions central to any democratic political culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Early American Literature
A major and intellectually powerful effort to intervene in the liberal hermeneutics that has shaped past and recent studies of American literature, culture, politics, and history.
— Betsy Erkkila
Early American Literature - Betsy Erkkila
A major and intellectually powerful effort to intervene in the liberal hermeneutics that has shaped past and recent studies of American literature, culture, politics, and history.
From the Publisher
"A major and intellectually powerful effort to intervene in the liberal hermeneutics that has shaped past and recent studies of American literature, culture, politics, and history."—Betsy Erkkila, Early American Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400822690
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/5/1998
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Core Textbook
  • Pages: 217
  • File size: 413 KB

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1Introduction: Body Politics3Pt. 1Sentiment and Citizenship252United States Liberalism and the Public Sphere273The Patriot's Two Bodies: Nationality and Corporeality in George Washington's "Farewell Address"55Pt. 2Sentiment and Sex794Corresponding Sentiments and Republican Letters: Hannah Foster's The Coquette815Masochism and Male Sentimentalism: Charles Brockden Brown's Clara Howard112Pt. 3Sentiment and Sexuality1356Obscene Publics: Jesse Sharpless and Harriet Jacobs1377Afterword: Closeted Sentiments155Notes161Index205
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