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States of Sympathy : Seduction and Democracy in the American Novel - Elizabeth Barnes

States of Sympathy

Seduction and Democracy in the American Novel

Paperback Published: 8th October 1997
ISBN: 9780231108799
Number Of Pages: 292
For Ages: 22+ years old

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States of Sympathy calls for a new approach to reading early American fiction and politics, one that recognizes sympathy as crucial to the construction of American identity: to read sympathetically becomes synonymous with reading like an American. Examining philosophical and political texts alongside literary ones, Elizabeth Barnes explores the extent to which sympathy and sentiment are increasingly employed to construct the notion of a politically affective state. Barnes demonstrates how the family comes to represent the ideal model for social and political affiliations. Familial feeling proves the foundations for sympathy and sympathy the foundation for democracy.
In holding up the family as a model for sociopolitical union, however, sentimental rhetoric conflates the boundaries between familial and sociosexual ties, resulting in a confusion of familial and erotic attachment. The distinction between licit and illicit love - exemplified in numerous stories about incest and seduction - becomes a preoccupying theme in American literature. While such stories have often been read as a manifestation of anxieties about corruption in the young republic, Barnes provocatively argues that incest and seduction actually represent the logical outcome of nineteenth-century American culture's most deeply held values.

Industry Reviews

Barnes covers a lot of textual ground in articulating her assertion that 'American culture's preoccupation with familial feeling as the foundation for sympathy, and sympathy as the basis of a democratic republic, ultimately confounds the difference between familial and social bonds.' She makes her argument by referring to a wide variety of literary texts and to a number of philosophers, including Locke, Paine, and Francis Hutcheson.

The Politics of Sympathyp. 1
Natural and National Unionsp. 19
Domesticating Sympathy
The Metapolitics of Common Sense
The Erotics of Common Sense: The Power of Sympathy
The Man Within the Breast
Seductive Education and the Virtues of the Republic Conventional Rebellionsp. 40
The Art of Seduction: The Crimes of Love and Wieland
"Female Education" and Its Discontents
The Authority of Representation: Charlotte Temple
"This Man Will Seduce Me Into Matrimony": The Coquette
Changing the Subject: Domestic Fictions of Self-Possessionp. 74
Domestic Reformations
The Conversion to Love: A New-England Tale
Corporate Individualism: The Lamplighter
Reimagining the Familiar Body: Uncle Tom's Cabin
Mothers of Seductionp. 100
The Lessons of Womanhood
Literate and Literary Daughters: The Wide, Wide World
Mirroring the Mother Text: Love's Progress and Ernest Linwood
Conclusion: Billy Budd and the Critique of Sympathyp. 115
Notesp. 127
Indexp. 147
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780231108799
ISBN-10: 0231108796
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 22+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 292
Published: 8th October 1997
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.94 x 15.37  x 1.07
Weight (kg): 0.32