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Why, he asks, does it seem easier for humanity to imagine a future shaped by ever-deadlier accidents than a decent future? Danger and Vulnerability in Nineteenth Century American Literature; or, Crash and Burn American invites readers to examine the “threat horizon” through its nascent expression in literary and cultural history. Against the emerging rhetoric of danger in the long nineteenth century, this book examines how a vocabulary of vulnerability in the American imaginary promoted the causes of the structurally disempowered in new and surprising ways, often seizing vulnerability as the grounds for progressive insight. The texts at the heart of this study, from nineteenth-century sensation novels to early twentieth-century journalistic fiction, imagine spectacular collisions, terrifying conflagrations, and all manner of catastrophe, social, political, and environmental. Together they write against illusions of inviolability in a growing technological and managerial culture, and they imagine how the recognition of universal vulnerability may challenge normative representations of social, political, and economic marginality.