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Mania for Freedom: American Literatures of Enthusiasm from the Revolution to the Civil War

Condition: BRAND NEW
ISBN: 9781469629728
Author(s): John Mac Kilgore
Format: Paperback
Year: 2016
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Dimensions: 152 x 0 x 229 (w x l x h)
Pages: 296

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'Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,' wrote RalphWaldo Emerson in 1841. While this statement may read like an innocuoustruism today, the claim would have been controversial in the antebellumUnited States when enthusiasm was a hotly contested term associated withreligious fanaticism and poetic inspiration, revolutionary politics and imaginativeexcess. In analysing the language of enthusiasm in philosophy, religion,politics, and literature, John Mac Kilgore uncovers a tradition of enthusiasmlinked to a politics of emancipation. The dissenting voices chronicledhere fought against what they viewed as tyranny while using their writings toforge international or antinationalistic political affiliations. Pushing his analysis across national boundaries, Kilgore contends thatAmerican enthusiastic literature, unlike the era's concurrent sentimentalcounterpart, stressed democratic resistance over domestic reform as it navigatedthe global political sphere.
By analysing a range of canonical Americanauthors-including William Apess, Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Beecher Stowe,and Walt Whitman-Kilgore places their works in context with the causes,wars, and revolutions that directly or indirectly engendered them. In doingso, he makes a unique and compelling case for enthusiasm's centrality in theshaping of American literary history.

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