The gender of freedom : fictions of liberalism and the literary public sphere


    • Dillon, Elizabeth Maddock


The gender of freedom : fictions of liberalism and the literary public sphere

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon

Stanford University Press, 2004

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [287]-303) and index



In a sweeping reassessment of early American literature, The Gender of Freedom explores the workings of the literary public sphere-from its colonial emergence through the antebellum flourishing of sentimentalism. Placing representations of and by women at the center rather than the margin of the public sphere, this book links modern forms of political identity to the seemingly private images of gender displayed prominently in the developing public sphere. The "fictions of liberalism" explored in this book are those of marriage and motherhood, sentimental domesticity, and heterosexual desire-narratives that structure the private realm upon which liberalism depends for its meaning and value. In a series of bold theoretical arguments and nuanced readings of literary texts, the author explores the political force of these private narratives with chapters on the Antinomian crisis in Puritan Massachusetts, early national models of gender and marriage in the works of Charles Brockden Brown and Hannah Webster Foster, infanticide narratives and nineteenth-century accounts of motherhood in the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Lydia Maria Child, and "re-arranging" marriage in the poetry of Emily Dickinson.


Contents Introduction: The Gender of Freedom and Women in Public 1 Chapter One. Gender, Liberal Theory, and the Literary Public Sphere 00 Chapter Two. Puritan Bodies and Transatlantic Texts 00 Chapter Three. Contracting Marriage in the New Republic 000 Chapter Four. Sociality and Sentiment 000 Coda. Queering Marriage: Emily Dickinson and the Poetics of Title 000 Notes Works Cited 000 Index Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication: American literature Colonial period, ca, 1600-1775 History and criticism, Liberty in literature, Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886 Criticism and interpretation, American literature 1783-1850 History and criticism, Politics and literature United States History, Women and literature United States History, Sentimentalism in literature, Liberalism in literature, Sex role in literature, Marriage in literature, Women in literature

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