Download PDF by Kevin Pelletier: Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum

By Kevin Pelletier

ISBN-10: 0820339482

ISBN-13: 9780820339481

In distinction to the present scholarly con-sensus that knows sentimentality to be grounded on a good judgment of affection and sympathy, Apocalyptic Sentimentalism demonstrates that during order for sentimentality to paintings as an antislavery engine, it had to be associated with its seeming opposite—fear, particularly the terror of God’s wrath. such a lot antislavery reformers famous that demands love and sympathy or the illustration of agony slaves wouldn't lead an viewers to “feel correct” or to actively oppose slavery. the specter of God’s apocalyptic vengeance—and the phobia that this hazard inspired—functioned in the culture of abolitionist sentimentality as an important goad for sympathy and love. Fear,then, used to be on the heart of nineteenth-century sentimental thoughts for inciting antislavery reform, bolstering love whilst love faltered, and working as a strong mechanism for setting up interracial sympathy. Depictions of God’s apocalyptic vengeance constituted the most productive procedure for antislavery writers to generate a feeling of terror of their audience.

targeting a variety of vital anti-slavery figures, together with David Walker, Nat Turner, Maria Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown, Apocalyptic Sentimentalism illustrates how antislavery discourse labored to redefine violence and vengeance because the final expression (rather than denial) of affection and sympathy. on the sametime, those warnings of apocalyptic retribution enabled antislavery writers to precise, albeit in some way, fantasies of brutal violence opposed to slaveholders. What begun as a sentimental approach speedy grew to become an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the total annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.

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Extra resources for Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature

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By the 1850s, however, apocalyptic sentimentalism is organizing whole scenes of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as the entire narrative structure of Dred, so that chapters in Stowe’s second work of antislavery fiction which emphasize the importance of love are immediately followed by chapters foreboding God’s impending wrath. On the eve of the Civil War, apocalyptic sentimentalism helps organize a widespread cultural response to John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, with many antislavery reformers arguing that Brown’s violence, both in Kansas and in Virginia, was ultimately an expression of—and inspired by—his deep love for slaves.

3 According to Hendler, sympathetic identification, which is what sentimental fiction seeks to produce, is concomitantly the force that precedes the appearance of sympathy and that retroactively (and paradoxically) activates sympathetic identification in a particular character (and, the sentimental writer hopes, in the reader as well). Sympathy, in this view, is the outcome and origin of itself. ” 4 For Weinstein, tears—the external signs of internal sympathy—are also what create sympathy in others.

Second, Turner’s confession provides a form of expression for later writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe, for whom insurrectionary panic becomes a sentimental mode and who represent warnings of God’s vengeance as a euphemism for black violence against slaveholders. We see for the first time in part 1 the development of messianic force, a formation that occurs most notably in Walker’s Appeal and Turner’s Confessions but is also enlarged by Maria Stewart in her writings and lectures. Both Walker and Turner represent an empowered rebellious black subject through a seemingly counterintuitive act of self-abnegation and submission to higher authority.

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Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature by Kevin Pelletier


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