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In this provocative book, Jane Tompkins seeks to move the study of literature away from the small group of critically approved texts that have dominated literary discussion over the decades, to allow inclusion of texts ignored or denigrated by the literary academy. Sensational Designs challenges comfortable assumptions about what makes a literary work a "classic."
In this provocative book, Jane Tompkins seeks to move the study of literature away from the small group of critically approved texts that have dominated literary discussion over the decades, to allow inclusion of texts ignored or denigrated by the literary academy. Sensational Designs challenges comfortable assumptions about what makes a literary work a "classic."
In this provocative book, Jane Tompkins seeks to move the study of literature away from the small group of critically approved texts that have dominated literary discussion over the decades, to allow inclusion of texts ignored or denigrated by the literary academy. Sensational Designschallenges comfortable assumptions about what makes a literary work a "classic."
In this book, Glenn Hendler explores what he calls the "logic of sympathy" in novels by Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, T. S. Arthur, Martin Delany, Horatio Alger, Fanny Fern, Nathaniel Parker Willis, Henry James, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells. For these nineteenth-century writers, he argues, sympathetic identification was not strictly an individual, feminizing, and private feeling but the quintessentially public sentiment--a transformative emotion with the power to shape social institutions and political movements. Uniting current scholarship on gender in nineteenth-century American culture with historical and theoretical debates on the definition of the public sphere in the period, Hendler shows how novels taught diverse readers to "feel right," to experience their identities as male or female, black or white, middle or working class, through a sentimental, emotionally based structure of feeling. He links novels with such wide-ranging cultural and political discourses as the temperance movement, feminism, and black nationalism. Public Sentiments demonstrates that, whether published for commercial reasons or for higher moral and aesthetic purposes, the nineteenth-century American novel was conceived of as a public instrument designed to play in a sentimental key.
This study proposes interpretive strategies for nineteenth-century American women's novels. Harris contends that women in the nineteenth century read subversively, 'processing texts according to gender based imperatives'. Beginning with Susannah Rowson's best-selling seduction novel Charlotte Temple (1791), and ending with Willa Cather's O Pioneers! (1913), Harris scans white, middle-class women's writing throughout the nineteenth century. In the process she both explores reading behaviour and formulates a literary history for mainstream nineteenth-century American women's fiction. Through most of the twentieth century, women's novels of the earlier period have been denigrated as conventional, sentimental, and overwritten. Harris shows that these conditions are actually narrative strategies, rooted in cultural imperatives and, paradoxically, integral to the later development of women's texts that call for women's independence. Working with actual women's diaries and letters, Harris first shows what contemporary women sought from the books they read. She then applies these reading strategies to the most popular novels of the period, proving that even the most apparently retrograde demonstrate their heroines' abilities to create and control areas culturally defined as male.
The antebellum period has long been identified with the belated emergence of a truly national literature. And yet, as Meredith L. McGill argues, a mass market for books in this period was built and sustained through what we would call rampant literary piracy: a national literature developed not despite but because of the systematic copying of foreign works. Restoring a political dimension to accounts of the economic grounds of antebellum literature, McGill unfolds the legal arguments and political struggles that produced an American "culture of reprinting" and held it in place for two crucial decades. In this culture of reprinting, the circulation of print outstripped authorial and editorial control. McGill examines the workings of literary culture within this market, shifting her gaze from first and authorized editions to reprints and piracies, from the form of the book to the intersection of book and periodical publishing, and from a national literature to an internally divided and transatlantic literary marketplace. Through readings of the work of Dickens, Poe, and Hawthorne, McGill seeks both to analyze how changes in the conditions of publication influenced literary form and to measure what was lost as literary markets became centralized and literary culture became stratified in the early 1850s. American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853 delineates a distinctive literary culture that was regional in articulation and transnational in scope, while questioning the grounds of the startlingly recent but nonetheless powerful equation of the national interest with the extension of authors' rights.
In the decades spanning the nineteenth century, thousands of women entered the literary marketplace. Twelve of the century's most successful women writers provide the focus for Mary Kelley's landmark study: Maria Cummins, Caroline Howard Gilman, Caroline Lee Hentz, Mary Jane Holmes, Maria McIntosh, Sara Parton, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Virginia Terhune, Susan Warner, and Augusta Evans Wilson. These women shared more than commercial success. Collectively they created fictions that Kelley terms "literary domesticity," books that both embraced and called into question the complicated expectations shaping the lives of so many nineteenth-century women. Matured in a culture of domesticity and dismissed by a male writing establishment, they struggled to reconcile public recognition with the traditional roles of wife and mother. Drawing on the 200 volumes of published prose and on the letters, diaries, and journals of these writers, Kelley explores the tensions that accompanied their unprecedented literary success. In a new preface, she discusses the explosion in the scholarship on writing women since the original 1984 publication of Private Woman, Public Stage and reflects on the book's ongoing relevance.

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