By Kevin Pelletier
targeting various very important 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 specific, albeit not directly, fantasies of brutal violence opposed to slaveholders. What started as a sentimental approach quick grew to become an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the whole annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.
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Extra resources for Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature
How it functioned and the types of responses it generated depended on the specific form the apocalypse took within a given context. The manner in which a minister communicated apocalyptic theology in a sermon and its purposes therein were often quite different from how it manifested and operated in novels (though, of course, they could be quite similar as well). Likewise, just as a political exhortation from an abolitionist differed from a landscape painting, so did the accounts of apocalypse produced within these respective discourses.
I expand the scholarly archive to include statements by Brown’s children, especially his son Salmon Brown, that describe him as a family man and loving father while almost entirely avoiding a discussion of the bloodshed he was responsible for. Rather than locating Brown on the field of battle or nearing the gallows, which is where critics typically place him, these statements by Salmon Brown situate his father by the hearth, singing to his children and caring for his wife. After Brown, the pleas for love and fantasies of violence that were entangled within the discourse The Sentimental Apocalypse 29 of apocalyptic sentimentalism are no longer so readily accommodated within nineteenth-century American culture.
Jane Tompkins’s view of Uncle Tom’s Cabin represents an almost universally shared opinion among critics who read this novel in terms of its successful joining of sentimentality to an antislavery politics. What makes Uncle Tom’s Cabin such a meaningful cultural intervention, in Tompkins’s analysis, is Stowe’s equation of social power with loving mothers, a view that most critics have reiterated, even when they chastise Stowe for failing to imagine a more comprehensive and pragmatic antislavery or feminist politics.
Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature by Kevin Pelletier
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