Romances of the Republic: Women, the Family, and Violence in the Literature of the Early American Nation

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Oxford University Press, Aug 29, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
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Romances of the Republic contributes to the lively field of scholarship on the interconnection of ideology and history in early American literature. Shirley Samuels illustrates the relations of sexual, political, and familial rhetoric in American writing from 1790 to the 1850s. With special focus on depictions of the American Revolution and on the use of the family as a model and instrument of political forces, she examines how the historical novel formalizes the more extravagant features of the gothic novel--incest, murder, the horror of family--while incorporating a sentimental vision of the family. Samuels's analysis deals with writers like Charles Brockden Brown, Catherine Sedgwick, James Fenimore Cooper, and Mason Weems, and argues that their novels formulated a family structure that, unlike earlier models, was neither patriarchal nor a revolt against patriarchy. In emphasizing sibling rivalry and inter-generational quarrels about marriage, the novel of this period attempted to unite disparate political, national, class, and even racial positions.

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Contents

The Family the State and the Novel in the Early Republic
3
Arthur Mervyn
23
Alien and Infidel
44
Cooper and the Domestic Revolution
57
4 Monuments and Hearths
76
The Making of Americans
96
6 The Identity of Slavery
113
Notes
129
Bibliography
173
Index
191
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Page 111 - reappear in the novel as a problem of language, and specifically as the problematic involvement of women with reading and writing. Natty Bumppo resentfully notes that "a man who is too conscientious to spend his days among the women, in learning the names of black marks, may never hear of the deeds of his fathers
Page 110 - suggests also an uneasy relation between such a maternal personification of the forest and the threat its dense shadows pose. The threat behind the veil appears dramatically when the travelers initially enter the woods and the "forest at length appeared to swallow up the living mass which had slowly entered its bosom
Page 161 - Natty tells Duncan to wash off his Indian disguise before he sees Alice: "young women of white blood give the preference to their own colour." After he "availed himself of the water," "every frightful or offensive mark was obliterated, and the youth appeared again in the lineaments with which he had been gifted by nature
Page 110 - concealing her identity, Cora's veil, like her blush, reveals her gender and her race. Her veil arouses attention in the forest, enabling Uncas and the others to track her from the massacre scene when they notice she has dropped "the rag she wore to hide a face that all did love to look upon
Page 99 - emphasized again when he rides into the forest: his body unsurprisingly "possessed the power to arrest any wandering eye," since it appears as an "optical illusion"; "the undue elongation of his legs" produces "such sudden growths and diminishings of his stature as baffled every conjecture that might be made as to his dimensions

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