Fictions of Mass Democracy in Nineteenth-Century America

Fictions of Mass Democracy in Nineteenth-Century America

by Stacey Margolis

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Fictions of Mass Democracy in Nineteenth-Century America examines how mass democracy was understood before public opinion could be measured by polls. It argues that fiction, in its freedom to represent what resists representation, develops the most groundbreaking theories of the democratic public. These literary accounts of democracy focus less on overt pubic action than the profound effects of everyday social encounters. This book thus departs from recent scholarship, which emphasizes the responsibilities of citizenship and the achievements of oppositional social movements. It demonstrates how novels and stories by Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Fanny Fern, Harriet Jacobs and James Fenimore Cooper attempt to understand a public organized not only by explicitly political discourse, but by informal and disorganized social networks.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781316379561
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 07/23/2015
Series: Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture , #173
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Stacey Margolis is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the English Department at the University of Utah. She is the author of The Public Life of Privacy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, and her articles have appeared in such journals as NOVEL, English Literary History, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists and Arizona Quarterly.

Table of Contents

1. Network theory circa 1800: Charles Brockden Brown's Arthur Mervyn; 2. Gossip in the age of print: Poe's crowdsourcing; 3. The people's curse: Hawthorne's network theory of power; 4. Publics, counterpublics, networks: the viral complaint of Melville, Fern, and Jacobs; 5. The tyranny of opinion: Cooper's The Ways of the Hour.

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