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American Literary-Political Engagements: From Poe to James by William M. Etter

By William M. Etter

American Literary-Political Engagements: From Poe to James examines how authors within the nineteenth-century usa usually engaged the politics in their occasions via literature as they conceptualized political matters in literary phrases. issues over Jacksonian democracy, social reform in a quickly industrializing American financial system, African-American familial cooperation within the post-Civil conflict period, altering conceptions of culpability with recognize to the legislation, and marginalized participants' involvement in political agitation close to the shut of the century have been made the crucial matters of numerous literary works which, notwithstanding rarely characterised as brazenly political, however made those political issues an issue of, and for, literary artwork. via examinations of Edgar Allan Poe's comedic stories the best way to Write a Blackwood Article and A crisis, Rebecca Harding Davis' novel Margret Howth, Mattie J. Jackson's postbellum slave narrative, William Dean Howells' a contemporary example, and Henry James' The Princess Casamassima, this booklet considers how those texts increase our figuring out of nineteenth-century America's conceptions of the probabilities and tasks of literature and of renowned democracy, industrialization, African-American girls, the legislations, political agitation, and incapacity.

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Poor laws, for instance, linked 2 I am indebted to Davis scholar Blake Bronson-Bartlett for this reference. Bronson-Bartlett has contended that the racial issues in Davis’ postbellum novel Waiting for the Verdict (1867) can be productively examined through a consideration of contemporary medical reform. For a discussion of the “tragic mulatta” figure in the political discourse of the period, see Jean Fagan Yellin, Women and Sisters: The Antislavery Feminists in American Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

But which ought never to appear externally, and as the mere blood itself” (“Table Talk” 595). Coleridge’s statement offers us a good model for Poe’s political views. The mass public is an essential component of the nation, but it is an element that must be carefully regulated by select governing powers more intelligent and talented than itself, just as the human body must appear in its “natural” form to function properly, with the blood flowing in its proper places and operating in conjunction with the body as a whole.

The young women in Lois’ neighborhood, for instance, are presented as “good, kind girls, every one of them,— [who] had taken it in turn to sit up with Lois last winter all the time she had the rheumatism. She never forgot that time,—never once” (97). The most significant white female character whose personal, spiritual, and political development is linked to Lois’ disability is Margret Howth herself. In an improbably brief span early in the novel, Davis charts Margret’s conversion from conservative proponent of individualism and self-reliance to a more liberal advocate of social reform.

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