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

By: Burgett, Bruce.
Material type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on Demand.Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1998Description: 1 online resource (222 p.).ISBN: 9781400822690.Subject(s): American literature -- 1783-1850 -- History and criticism | Citizenship in literature | Gender identity in literature | Gender identity in literature | Human body in literature | Politics and literature -- United States -- History -- 18th century | Politics and literature -- United States -- History -- 19th century | Sentimentalism in literature | Sex role in literature | Sex role in literature | United States -- Intellectual life -- 1783-1865Genre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Sentimental Bodies : Sex, Gender, and Citizenship in the Early RepublicDDC classification: 305.420973 | 810.9/358 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Book Cover; Title; Copyright; Contents
Summary: 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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Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
Online
PS217.P64 B87 1998 (Browse shelf) http://uttyler.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=617302 Available EBL617302

Book Cover; Title; Copyright; Contents

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.

Description based upon print version of record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

In this difficult yet penetrating volume, Burgett explores "the relations among sentiment, embodiment, and citizenship in the post-revolutionary United States." Writing in the pithy, dense, and idiosyncratic mode of the postmodern milieu, the author argues that the literature of the period used sentimental structures to produce political effects in its readers--and the most affecting element for the reading body was the human body in its civil, gendered, and sexual forms. In a topical vision not unlike that raised by The People vs. Larry Flynt or recent media attention to what has been called the "politics of sex," Burgett isolates the effects of particular works on the body politic and the body singular, evidenced through liberalism and republicanism. The metaphor of bodies personal and bodies politic explains "boundaries that divide private from public life, civil from state authority, subjection from citizenship." It acquires its power by its focus on sentimental conventions. Illustrative texts chosen to reveal these customs range from George Washington's Farewell Address to Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and the "fallout" is impressive. Often employing parallelism and antithesis, Burgett sets up many "fissures," "disjunctions," "battles," "contradictions," "dialectics," and the like, which clearly show the blacks and whites of his argument--but not always the grays. Most appropriate for graduate and research collections. E. J. Zimmermann; emeritus, Canisius College

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Bruce Burgett is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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