The Culture of Sentiment

The Culture of Sentiment : Race, Gender, and Sentimentality in Nineteenth Century America

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This collection of critical essays develops the study of nineteenth-century sentimentality by examining it in light of the so-called 'women's culture' and of issues of race.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 358 pages
  • 163.6 x 243.1 x 26.2mm | 780.19g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones
  • 0195063546
  • 9780195063547
  • 1,775,658

Back cover copy

In this important new collection, leading scholars in nineteenth-century American culture re-examine the vexed subject of sentimentality. These essays draw upon a range of interdisciplinary approaches to situate sentimentality in terms of "women's culture" and issues of race, before and after the Civil War. Moving beyond the canonical debates about sentimentality, the collection makes visible the particular racial and gendered forms that define the aesthetics and politics of the American culture of sentiment. The contributors use evidence from American cultural history, American studies, and literary criticism, to examine the process by which nineteenth-century American culture was both produced and contested. They present incisive readings of scenes like an antebellum murder trial, the erotic attention audiences paid to the statues of Hiram Powers, and the engravings of Godey's Ladies Book. In addition, they use the writings of Harriet Jacobs, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper, Pauline Hopkins, W.E.B. DuBois, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, to question the political fables immanent in this literature. More generally, they portray nineteenth-century American sentimentality as a national project - a project about imagining the nation's bodies and the national body. With essays by Lauren Berlant, Ann Fabian, Susan Gillman, Karen Halttunen, Carolyn L. Karcher, Joy Kasson, Amy Schrager Lang, Isabelle Lehuu, Harryette Mullen, Dana Nelson, Lora Romero, Shirley Samuels, Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Lynn Wardley, and Laura Wexler, The Culture of Sentiment significantly reorients the field of nineteenth-century American literature, art, culture, and history. It will be of keen interest to those concernedwith women's studies, American studies, cultural studies, African-American studies, and American history and literature.
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Review quote

'Samuels must be commended for assembling fifteen essays that so skillfully discuss the central and wide-ranging position of sentimentalism in American culture. This volume is rich with insight.'
Greg Camfield, University of Pennsylvania, Nineteenth-Century Literature 48:2 (September 1993)
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